Air Force says failed to report Texas shooter's criminal history

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force said on Monday it failed to provide information as required about a Texas shooter's criminal history to a U.S. law enforcement database - something that should have blocked any legal access to firearms in the United States.

Former airman Devin Kelley, who killed 26 people and wounded 20 others when he opened fire in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was convicted five years ago by a general court-martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and stepson.

The Air Force said that information was not entered, however, into the National Criminal Information Center database, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation oversees and uses to run the required background check requests from gun dealers before a sale.

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What we know about Texas church shooting suspect Devin Kelley
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What we know about Texas church shooting suspect Devin Kelley

Devin Patrick Kelley is accused of killing more than two dozen people in a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

(Texas Department of Safety/Handout via REUTERS)

The 26-year-old live in this home in New Braunfels, Texas.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

He was a member of the U.S. Air Force before discharged and court-martialed for reportedly assault his first wife and child.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Officials said Kelley was involved in a domestic dispute with the family of  a woman he married in 2014.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

He worked at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Kelley used an AR-556 rifle and wore tactical gear during the attack, according to authorities.

(Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

Two ex-girlfriends told NBC News that Kelley stalked them after breakups.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Devin Patrick Kelley attended high school at New Braunfels High School.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Authorities said Kelley called his father during the chase to say he had been shot and might not survive. He was later found dead in his vehicle. 

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A former schoolmate of Kelley told Reuters that he shared posts on Facebook about atheism and his assault weapon in recent years.

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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It is illegal under federal law to sell or give a gun to someone who been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence against a spouse or child.

"The Air Force has launched a review of how the service handled the criminal records of formerAirman Devin P. Kelley following his 2012 domestic violence conviction," said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

It released Kelley's general court-martial order, saying that Kelley struck the child "on the head and body with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm" on or about June 16, 2011, as well as striking the child on other instances between April and June.

Despite his conviction, which resulted in his "bad conduct" discharge from the military, Kelley was able to twice buys guns at the Academy Sports + Outdoors chain's San Antonio outlet since last year, the store said in a statement.

Both times, his names was run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which relies on the FBI's crime database, and came back with no red flags, the store said, citing "information we received from law enforcement."

22 PHOTOS
Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church. A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church (rear). A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 6: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement and forensic officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: A forensics official passes by the entrance to the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police are at the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police have closed off the roads near the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the shooting scene at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: People gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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'NEEDS TO BE FIXED'

Gun experts said Kelley had exposed a previously unnoticed weak link in the background check system.

"We need to fix what is apparently a really serious loophole," Robyn Thomas, the executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a telephone interview.

"I think what’s happened here is the military's manner of applying the law hasn't really been properly correlated to the civilian approach and that is something that needs to be fixed."

Experts noted that the U.S. military routinely reported so-called dishonorable discharges from the military, which also disqualify a person from buying guns, to the background check database.

12 PHOTOS
Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
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Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
Mourners attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Brayleigh and her brother Branson attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Community leader Mike Gonzales attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Ramiro and Sofia Martinez attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Sofia Martinez, 9, attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
A woman attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Local residents take part in a candle light vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed
A woman and her children take part in a vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Michaun Johnson attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Jordan Moy holds his 5 year old daughter Bryleigh Moy as he is interviewed across the street from a mass shooting site of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
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"We have not seen a problem from the Department of Defense in the past. We know that the reporting of dishonorable discharges to the system is apparently quite robust,” said Jonas Oransky, deputy legal director at the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

It was possible the department had failed to report other kinds of required information to the database, he said.

"They should have reported that into the system and that record should have been sitting there when he tried to buy a gun in Texas," Oransky said in a phone interview.

The Pentagon also said it requested that its inspector general, its independent watchdog, review policies and procedures "to ensure records from other cases across (Department of Defense) have been reported correctly."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney)

 

 

 

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