First image: Texas Department of Public Safety via AP. Second image: Jay Janner and Austin American-Statesman via AP

Couple that lost 9 family members in Texas church shooting sues US government

Wed 13 Jun 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

A husband and wife that lost nine family members in the Texas mass church shooting have sued the United States government.

Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who lost their son, and eight extended family members have accused the government of having "institutional failures " that allowed the shooter to obtain the gun he used in the shooting.

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, opened fire inside First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Church in November 2017, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others in what the Texas governor called the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history.


Soon after the shooting, the US Air Force admitted that it failed to report that Kelley was convicted of sexual assault to law enforcement database. If it would have done so, Kelley would not have been able to legally buy a gun.

The Holcombes claimed in the lawsuit that the massacre could have been avoided if there weren't "institutional failures and the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of one or more employees of the United States government".

The lawsuit adds: "As a result of the criminal conviction, the Defendant USA was required to, amongst other things, enter this information into various federal computer databases advising that Airman Kelley had been convicted of crimes that prevented him from purchasing, owning and/or possessing firearms.

"But Airman Kelley was able to purchase an assault-style rifle as a direct result of the US Air Force's admitted, systemic and long-standing failure to comply with the law and its own internal policies, rules, regulations and guidelines."

The couple said that even though Kelley "pulled the trigger", the government's irresponsible actions was the "proximate cause" of their family's death.

The Holcombes are seeking $25 million each in damages.

According to USA Today, the Air Force has reviewed years' worth of offenses and corrected similar mistakes since the shooting.

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