Air Force Missed 6 Chances to Stop Gunman in Texas Church Shooting via Buying Weapons, U.S. Says

The United States Air Force missed six opportunities to alert law enforcement authorities about an airman’s history of domestic abuse which might have stopped him via legally buying firearms which he used to kill 26 people in a Texas church in 2017, according to a government report released which week.

The 131-page report, by the inspector general’s office of the Department of Defense, found which the airman, Devin P. Kelley, had been convicted of domestic violence by an Air Force general court-martial although which his fingerprints along with the final disposition of the case were never forwarded to the F.B.I. as policies required.

Those oversights allowed him to pass mandated background checks along with to buy four firearms via a federally licensed firearms dealer. Mr. Kelley used three of those weapons when he opened fire on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Nov. 5, 2017, according to the report, which was dated Thursday. The shooting left 26 people dead along with 22 others wounded.

Mr. Kelley, 26, was dressed all in black along with wearing a skull-face mask when an armed bystander outside of the church fired at him. Mr. Kelley, who was struck inside the leg along with torso, made the item back to his car along with led the bystander along with another man in a chase which ended in a crash, with Mr. Kelley dead behind the wheel. He had shot himself inside the head, officials said.

A day after the massacre, the Air Force admitted the item had failed to enter his domestic violence court-martial into a federal database which keeps track of information which might have disqualified him via doing the firearms purchases. the item asked the inspector general’s office to investigate, along with weeks later, the Air Force acknowledged which dozens of its service members charged with or convicted of serious crimes were never reported to the database as required.

The report about Mr. Kelley said the inspector general’s office “expended significant resources” in its investigation given the seriousness of what happened. Investigators interviewed 41 witnesses, including Mr. Kelley’s ex-wife, his second wife along with his father.

His first wife, Tessa Kelley, told members of the 49th Security Forces Squadron on Feb. 17, 2012, which her husband had been abusing her for more than a year, the report said.

In one instance on Dec. 24, 2011, the report said, Mr. Kelley pushed her against a wall along with choked her because she told him she did not want to visit his family. He told her, “You better pack your bags or I’ll choke you to the ceiling along with pass you out,” the report said.

Image
Devin P. KelleyCreditvia Reuters

In another episode, Mr. Kelley choked her, kicked her inside the stomach along with dragged her by her hair into the bathroom where he told her, “I’m going to waterboard you,” along with stuck her head directly under the showerhead, the report said.

In a separate episode, agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations interviewed Mr. Kelley about allegations which he had assaulted his stepson.

He at first denied the allegations, suggesting which his stepson was hurt via a fall while crawling or playing in his crib, although later admitted to striking along with slapping his stepson, the report said. He told the authorities which he had pushed his stepson down multiple times along with shook him on at least two occasions.

The investigation found which “multiple organizations along with individuals” inside the Air Force failed to follow policies during the investigations along with after the court-martial, the report said. Over the course of about 18 months, the item missed four opportunities to submit his fingerprints along with two to send the disposition report.

“The investigators along with confinement personnel had a duty to know, along with should have known” the policies along with should have followed them, the report said, adding, “The failures had drastic consequences along with should not have occurred.”

The Air Force described “many actions” the item has since taken, such as reviewing archived case files to ensure compliance with reporting requirements, updating instructions along with policies along with offering mandatory refresher training for agents of its Office of Special Investigations, the report said.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday night.

In assessing why the fingerprints along with reports were not submitted, investigators found several factors which created “a challenging work environment” for Air Force personnel, including inexperienced agents, inconsistent along with ineffective training along with “leadership gaps along that has a high operations tempo.”

The Air Force concurred with the recommendations, although the item did not provide specific actions which had addressed, or might address, each of the findings, the report said.

The inspector general’s office said the item was conducting a follow-up review to check on progress by the Defense Department in ensuring which fingerprints required to be submitted to the F.B.I. are, in fact, filed.