Air Force Error Allowed Texas Shooter to Pass Firearm Background Check

Casey Dawson
November 10, 2017

The man accused of shooting and killing 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday escaped from a behavioral center in 2012, threatened his military superiors and tried to sneak weapons onto the Air Force base he lived on, according to reports from the El Paso Police Department that were uncovered by two local news outlets.

Conceding that Kelley was prohibited under federal law from buying or possessing firearms after his 2012 conviction, an Air Force spokeswoman said the Inspector-General of the force has been ordered to conduct a complete review of the Kelley case.

The report gives further evidence that Kelley should have been prohibited from getting the the gun he used for the church massacre.

The Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Kelley had been treated in the facility after he was placed under pretrial confinement stemming from a court-martial on charges that he assaulted his then-wife and hit her child hard enough to fracture the boy's skull. "An investigation is now underway, and the Air Force is taking it very seriously, said the source".

El Paso police arrested Kelley at a bus terminal in downtown El Paso in June 2012, according to a police report first reported by KPRC in Houston.

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An incident report described Kelley as "a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base" in New Mexico and that he concocted a plan to use a bus to escape the mental health facility.

The sheriff said he was trying to determine how deputies came to believe Kelley had moved and why they did not continue to pursue the case, either in Colorado or after Kelley returned to the area later.

At a news conference on Tuesday, investigators said they had hit a roadblock as they tried to fathom what motivated Kelley's rampage at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs: They have not been able to unlock his mobile phone, reviving an issue that received national attention after another mass shooting nearly two years ago. He was denied a concealed carry license in Texas for unclear reasons.

Martin repeated earlier statements that the shooting appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended services at the church but was not present on Sunday.

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