SAN ANTONIO (CN) — A family that lost nine members in the Texas church massacre has filed a claim against the United States, saying the Air Force could have prevented the shooter from buying the guns he used to kill 26 people and wound 20 more by entering him into an FBI database.
Over a year before the Nov. 6 carnage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Devin Patrick Kelley passed a background check to buy a Ruger AR-566 rifle in San Antonio.
Two years before that, however, the Air Force had discharged Kelley for bad behavior. While in the service, the New Braunfels man broke his baby stepson’s skull and kicked his wife. The Air Force was required by law to report the felony abuses to the FBI for its nationwide database for gun purchasers, but it did not.
Houston attorney Rob Ammons said in a statement Tuesday that Joe Holcombe and his wife, Claryce, filed a claim with the United States for the deaths of their son and eight other family members. Their son, John Bryan Holcombe, was shot in the back as he walked to the church pulpit to lead the congregation in worship.
“Simply put, JB Holcombe’s death was caused, in whole or in part, by the institutional failures of the United States Department of Defense, including but not limited to, the United States Air Force,” the claim states. The claim seeks, among other things, to determine liabilities.
Kelley’s rampage marked the deadliest shooting in Texas history. Authorities caught up with the 26-year-old about 11 miles north of the church where Kelley had apparently shot himself in his car.