The U.S. Air Force admitted Monday it mistakenly hadn’t entered the Texas church shooter’s criminal history into a national FBI database that otherwise could have prevented him from purchasing the weapon he used to kill 26 people Sunday.
Devin Kelley, 26, bought at least two guns from a store in Texas, and allegedly went on to open fire at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas — committing the deadliest mass shooting the state has ever seen.
The store said Kelley cleared the instant background check system, but that’s because those records didn’t exist.
“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. “Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction.”
Kelley, a former Air Force airman, had been court-martialed and convicted of two counts of domestic violence against his wife and his infant stepson in 2012 — charges that under law should have barred him from being able to purchase a gun. He served 12 months in confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California.
Had the Air Force followed procedure, which under law requires any information related to convictions of assault nature to be entered into the National Criminal Information Center database that’s overseen by the FBI, Kelley would not have passed the background check and wouldn’t have been able to purchase the weapons.
“What he was convicted of should have stopped him from getting a gun,” former top Air Force prosecutor, Col. Don Christensen, told CBS News. “He should not have had a gun because one, the maximum punishment was more than a year; and two, it involved domestic violence.”
The Air Force said Monday it would formally investigate its handling of Kelley’s criminal information.
“The Air Force has launched a review of how the service handled the criminal records of former Airman Devin P. Kelley following his 2012 domestic violence conviction,” the Air Force said, adding it would pursue a review of all other databases to make sure other cases hadn’t had a mistake as well.