Air Force investigates mishap that led to Texas church shooter buying illegal firearms

Air Force investigates mishap that led to Texas church shooter buying illegal firearms
The US Air Force has come clean about a mistake that allowed the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter Devin P. Kelly to obtain firearms illegally. Now the military service is making sure other court martial convictions haven’t also gone unreported.

On Monday, the Air Force said it failed to follow Pentagon guidelines for alerting federal law enforcement about Kelly, a former airman who killed 26 churchgoers on Sunday, and his violent past while part of their ranks.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, along with Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, have directed a complete review of the Kelly case to be completed by the service’s Office of the Inspector General. The Air Force will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to make sure other records have been correctly reported.

The service further requested that the Pentagon’s Inspector General review records and procedures throughout the Department of Defense (DoD).

During the review, the DoD Inspector General’s office will work with the service to review the handling of criminal records in Kelly’s case following his conviction for domestic violence against his wife and stepson in 2012.

Kelly’s conviction came while he was serving at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. He was later sentenced to a year in prison, and kicked out of the military with a bad conduct discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said, the Washington Post reported.

“Initial information indicates that Kelly’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database,” Stefanek said in a statement released on Monday, according to the Post.

Lawmakers in Washington DC called on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review military investigative organizations, and determine how many convicted former service members the military subsequently failed to properly document for the FBI.

Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) sent a letter to Mattis, asking him to start an audit of every criminal case in the military over the past decade, which required the military to notify the FBI of the case's outcome. Gillibrand also asked that Mattis make sure each notification was made, and was accurate, The Hill reported.

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“Hearing that the shooter was a former service member with military convictions for domestic violence was even more troubling. However, learning that this senseless act of violence might have been prevented if only the proper form was filled out by military investigators was absolutely devastating,” Gillibrand wrote, according to the Hill.

Gillibrand then went on to write: “If this can happen in one case, it could happen in others... I request that you immediately initiate an audit of all military criminal investigative organizations.”

Another legislator, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), tweeted out his opinion on the matter, and said: “Air Force failure to report gunman's domestic violence convictions seems to violate statutory duty. How many others unreported?”

The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), stated that each branch of the military needs to “investigate to determine if there are systemic issues that result in failure to report information on violent crimes” to the FBI, and the National Criminal Information Center database, The Hill reported.

Kelly opened fire inside a Baptist church in rural Sutherland Springs on November 5, killing 26 people in the process. At least 20 more were wounded in the attack.