by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A federal judge ruled Monday that the US Air Force must pay more than $230 million in damages to survivors and families of victims of the 2017 mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas, the Associated Press reports.
On November 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, Texas walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and shot 26 congregants, including an unborn child, to death before turning the gun on himself.
Kelley had previously worked with the US Air Force, and was court-martialed on grievous assault charges against his wife and stepson, to which he had pleaded guilty, AP reports. The Air Force, however, did not enter this conviction into the requisite national database: convictions of military personnel are supposed to be submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division for registration in the National Criminal Information Center database.
Suing the Air Force for negligence, 80 survivors and victims’ family members claim Kelley may not have been able to buy the Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle he used to carry out the killings had his conviction for violence been recorded in the database.
In July last year District Judge Xavier Rodriguez had ruled in July that the Air Force was “60% liable” for the mass murder. The plaintiffs had asked for $418 million, while the Justice Department recommended $31.8 million in damages, AP said.