The failure of the U.S. Air Force to report a domestic violence conviction to civilian authorities "had drastic consequences" that led to the shooting deaths of 26 people and the wounding of 22 others at a Texas church in 2017, and it "should not have occurred," according to a new report released Friday from the Pentagon Inspector General.
Two additional families who lost loved ones in the Sutherland Springs massacre last year are suing the U.S. Air Force for negligence, doubling the number of legal challenges the government is facing over the mass shooting.
Amid the ongoing national conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault, lawmakers are pushing the Department of Defense to better define domestic violence as a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to both punish abuse within the ranks and prevent future tragedies like the one that struck the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November 2017.
Nearly a month after disgraced former airman Devin Patrick Kelley massacred 26 worshipers in a Texas church with guns he was able to buy legally but shouldn’t have been, the Department of Defense has published a bleak audit of the U.S. armed forces’ compliance with criminal reporting procedures: Nearly a third of those service members convicted of military crimes that should have barred them from buying firearms — including rape, murder, conspiracy, and domestic violence — went unreported to federal law enforcement.
An Air Force review has found that the branch failed to report “several dozen” service members found guilty of violent offenses to the federal gun background check database, with representatives of the service telling the New York Times that the reporting failure that allowed disgraced airman Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase the firearms he used to murder 26 parishioners in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church on Nov. 5 “was not an isolated incident.”