(The Hill) — A Texas federal judge on Monday ordered the Air Force to pay $230 million to the families of the victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, after originally finding that it hadn’t taken a crucial step that would’ve prevented him from owning a firearm.
In what was the deadliest shooting in Texas history, Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 people and wounded 22 more when he opened fire on First Baptist Church, and shortly afterward killed himself.
In July, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez ruled that the federal government was 60 percent responsible for the shooing, while Kelley was 40 percent responsible. The Air Force hadn’t reported a 2012 conviction for assault.
In a Monday ruling, Rodriguez ordered the Air Force to pay millions, the sum of which is divided among the plaintiffs, for “pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, impairment, and loss of companionship or consortium.”
The government has 10 days from the order to file objections.
Kelley entered the Air Force in 2009 after graduating from high school and began active service a year later, according to a report from the Pentagon’s inspector general released in 2018.
But in 2012, he was convicted in a court-martial for beating and choking his wife and hitting his infant stepson, fracturing his skull.
Under federal law, that conviction should have prevented Kelley from buying the gun he used in the shooting as well as three other guns he had purchased in a store under federal law. However, background checks repeatedly showed that he was eligible to do so.
The Inspector General’s report released in 2018 found that the Air Force failed to notify the FBI six times of Kelley’s identity — including four times when it should’ve submitted his fingerprints.
In 2018, families of the victims filed a civil complaint against the Air Force alleging negligence.
Anne Stefanek, a spokesperson for the Air Force told The Hill that the service is “aware of the court’s award and are reviewing the judge’s ruling.”