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U.S. government responsible in church shooting, judge rules

The U.S. government being held responsible for the deadliest church shooting in Texas history.

BaptistPress.com reports

A federal district judge ordered the U.S. government to pay more than $230 million to survivors of the 2017 massacre of 26 worshipers at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.


U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez of the Western District of Texas awarded the damages Monday (Feb. 7) to survivors and heirs of survivors of the Nov. 5, 2017, church shooting, months after determining that the U.S. government was 60 percent liable for the massacre.

Time reports Kelly was an Air Force veteran that had received a bad conduct discharge.

Kelley served in the Air Force until he was discharged for allegedly assaulting his wife and child, according to service records obtained by the Associated Press. Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in Otero County, New Mexico from 2010 until a 2012 court martial, according to Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek. Kelley was demoted and received a bad conduct discharge following the court-martial, and served a one-year detention sentence, Stefanek said.

Baptist Press explains that the government’s liability was in part because of that bad conduct discharge:

Rodriguez levied blame in a July 2021 ruling that the U.S. Air Force had failed to report to the FBI shooter Devin Kelley’s bad conduct discharge in 2014. Two years earlier, Kelley had been convicted of assaulting his wife and stepson. Kelley was able to purchase the rifle used in the shooting because his name was not in a database that would have disqualified the purchase, Rodriguez said in the ruling last year. Rodriguez deemed Kelley 40 percent responsible for the crime.

Rodriguez awarded the 55 plaintiffs and consol plaintiffs individual damages in the ruling, some as high as $10 million or more, according to court documents.

Read the full article here.

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