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Judge approves negligence lawsuit against Air Force and Pentagon by victims of 2017 Sutherland Springs church massacre
The suit meets the criteria to fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek damages in certain cases if they can prove the U.S. Government was negligent, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Under most circumstances the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from lawsuits, but in this case U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez held that failure of the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense to log shooter Devin Kelley's history of mental health problems and violent behavior in an FBI database made them potentially liable.
It's information that plaintiffs allege would have shown up in a background check and prevented Kelley, 26, from acquiring the weapon he used to mow down 26 people at First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5, 2017. The dead included a pregnant woman and her unborn baby as well as several children, one of them just 18 months old.
The military vet took his own life after committing the deadliest shooting in Texas history.
Before carrying out his rampage, the Air Force vet had already been convicted of beating his first wife and assaulting his stepson, which earned him a discharge for bad conduct in 2014, The Dallas Morning News said. Two years before that he had been confined to, and escaped, a mental health facility for threatening to kill his commanding officers.
Last December the Department of Defense inspector general's office issued a report detailing Kelley's history of violence, gun obsession and threatening behavior toward women, the Associated Press reported. His wife and mother-in-law were First Baptist parishioners.
In February another negligence lawsuit was allowed to go forward, this one against the store that had sold Kelley his weapon, on the grounds that his Colorado Springs address should have disqualified him from buying it. It's illegal in Colorado to sell assault rifles with magazine capacities greater than 15 rounds, and Kelly bought a 30-round Ruger rifle, and the lawsuit against Academy Sports + Outdoors alleges that the retailer should have complied with Colorado's laws.
First Baptist has been slowly recovering since the shooting 18 months ago. Last Friday the church unveiled a new sanctuary that includes a memorial room that honors the victims.
©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
As the US sends 1,000 more troops to Middle East, the Pentagon is a rudderless ship caught in a storm
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
While the U.S. government has publicly blamed Iran for recent attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Oman, not a single U.S. official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.
At an off-camera briefing on Monday, Navy officials acknowledged that nothing in imagery released by the Pentagon shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards planting limpet mines on ships in the Gulf of Oman.
Investigation shows Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon was fired for alleged 'misconduct' but has not been charged
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
A Marine Raider convicted in a North Carolina court of misdemeanor assault for punching his girlfriend won't spend any time in jail unless he violates the terms of his probation, a court official told Task & Purpose.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.