Air Force Must Pay: Victims of Texas Church Massacre to Get $230M
Could this tragedy have been prevented by the Air Force?
A federal judge says yes, and after looking at the facts of the case, it's hard not to agree with him.
According to the Texas Tribune, Federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez says the Air Force is 60 percent liable for the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting, and has ordered victims, their families, and survivors of the Texas church massacre to receive 230 million dollars in damages.
There are 80 claimants in the lawsuit, including relatives of those who died in the shooting, along with 21 survivors.
The Sutherland Springs Shooting
It is the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, and the fifth-deadliest in the United States.
Devin Patrick Kelley used a Model 8500 Ruger AR-556 fitted with a 30-round magazine to kill over two dozen people, including a pregnant woman and eight children, during a Sunday service.
Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being chased by two men who heard gunfire at the church.
The Shooter's History
AP News reported that Kelley had a very violent past.
Two years before he was discharged from the Air Force due to bad conduct, Kelley was court-martialed, and found guilty for assaulting his wife and fracturing her infant son's skull.
The Air Force never reported this to the FBI. In fact, a 2018 report found that the Air Force failed to notify the FBI of Kelley's identity six different times.
How a Background Check Failed
Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federal agencies are required to report anyone prohibited from buying firearms, for reasons including a domestic violence conviction or dishonorable military discharge.
If Kelley's history of violence had been entered into the National Criminal Information Center database, he would have been unable to buy the assault rifle from Academy he used in the shooting.
Since Academy conducted a background check on Kelley, the Texas Supreme Court ruled they could not be sued for selling the weapon.
Will This Prevent Future Tragedy?
This case makes a big statement about accountability, and it will probably result in additional laws along with more debates about gun control.
However, a multi-million dollar settlement doesn't solve the underlying problems of mass shootings.
Until we can fix those issues, the symptoms get treated, but the disease remains.