Texas church shooting: Air Force admits it failed to report Devin Kelley's past crimes


The U.S. Air Force has come forward to acknowledge a “misstep” that meant that Texas church shooter Devin Kelley’s name and criminal convictions were never entered into the National Criminal Information Center, an FBI information system that allows law enforcement officials to access crime data shared across agencies.

This meant that Kelley essentially had a clean record, even though he’d been court-martialed, dishonorably discharged and pleaded guilty to domestic abuse charges. Because his charges were never entered into the NCIC, they essentially didn’t exist.

>> Texas church shooting: Why federal law should have stopped Devin Kelley from buying guns

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 amended that Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 to affect a total of nine conditions that make someone ineligible to own a gun, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They’re serious offenses like felony charges, known substance abuse, a dishonorable discharge from any branch of the armed services, a misdemeanor (or higher) domestic violence conviction and others.

Kelley is now known to qualify as a “prohibited person” — i.e., barred from ever legally owning a gun — on two of those conditions. He received a dishonorable discharge stemming from domestic abuse charges that he pleaded guilty to in 2012, according to Military.com.

>> Texas church shooting: Scenes from home of gunman Devin Patrick Kelley

Kelley’s dishonorable discharge from the Air Force was executed in 2014. He was initially charged with five domestic abuse charges; under a plea deal created between his lawyer and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona, he would plead guilty to just two of them.

>> Devin Patrick Kelley: What we know about Sutherland Springs Baptist Church shooter

Kelley pleaded guilty to one incident of domestic abuse in which he “struck his wife by beating her with his hands, kicking her, as well as choking her and forcefully pulling her hair” and another incident, a beating of a child under 16 in which he hit the child “on the head and body with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm,” according to court documents reviewed by Military.com. These incidents occurred between 2011 and 2012.

Three additional charges were withdrawn and dismissed. They alleged that Kelley struck a child, as well as assaulted and threatened his wife by pointing both loaded and unloaded firearms at her.

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As for Kelley and owning a firearm, that should have been it. A convicted domestic abuser with a dishonorable discharge, he would have failed any background test run on him for the purpose of acquiring a permit or purchasing a weapon.

But his convictions never came up on background checks; they were never entered, according to the Air Force, which has pledged a “complete review of the Kelley case by the Air Force Office of the Inspector General” in a statement released Monday.


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