WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has tasked its inspector general with delving into what the Air Force says was an error that left the Texas church shooter out of the database that would have stopped him from buying guns.
Devin Kelley was convicted in a 2012 court-martial of multiple incidents of assaulting his wife at the time and fracturing his infant stepson’s skull, violations of Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He was sentenced to 12 months at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar and was released from service in 2014 under a Bad Conduct Discharge.
Under federal law, Kelley, who bought an Ruger AR-556 in April 2016 from a San Antonio sporting goods store, should have been banned from buying firearms.
But the Air Force said today that Kelley’s domestic violence “was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations.” Kelley served in logistics and readiness at Holloman AFB in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein directed the Air Force inspector general to review not only the Kelley case but others to ensure records “have been reported correctly.”
“The DoD IG will also review relevant policies and procedures to ensure records from other cases across DoD have been reported correctly,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
After being discharged from the Air Force, Kelley was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in Colorado for beating a dog. That same year he married Danielle Lee Shields, who reportedly taught at the targeted church. The following year, a protective order was taken out against him in Colorado.
Kelley, 26, killed 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday morning. He was shot and then pursued in a car chase by two local residents before crashing and shooting himself in the head. He fired at least 450 rounds in the church.
Kelley reportedly sent a series of threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, a member of the church who was not at services, that morning.
Don Christensen, the former Air Force chief prosecutor when Kelley was sentenced, told CNN that somebody “really dropped the ball in this case and there’s 26 dead people now.”