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Sutherland Springs Family Files Wrongful Death Claim Against Air Force

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio

A mass shooting Nov. 5 in a Sutherland Springs church claimed 26 lives.  More than half a dozen of those killed came from one family, the Holcombes, who are now taking legal action.

Joe Holcombe and Claryce Holcombe, parents of visiting pastor John Bryan Holcombe, have filed an administrative claim against the U.S. government saying their son's death was the result of Air Force negligence. They're seeking wrongful death damages.

Sutherland Springs shooter Devin Patrick Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force after a 2012 court martial for domestic assault. On Nov. 6, the Air Force admitted it failed to submit Kelley's fingerprint card — and the outcome of his court martial — to the FBI, as required by law.

MORE | Read the entire claim below

Had that information been filed, it should have prevented Kelley from buying guns.

In a statement Tuesday, the Air Force blamed failures in "training and compliance measures" for the lapse.

The Holcombes' claim states that, even though Kelley pulled the trigger, “failures by the U.S. Air Force and others allowed the shooter to purchase, own, and/or possess the semiautomatic rifle, ammunition, and body armor he used.”

When asked whether it had been served papers, Air Force spokesperson Brooke Brzozowske declined comment.

“Every claim that is filed is thoroughly investigated and researched in accordance with established law and regulations,” she said. “Because the facts in every case are unique, we are unable to provide a timeline as to how long that process will take.”

A call to the Holcombes’ lawyer, Rob Ammons of Houston, was not immediately returned.

Carson Frame can be reached at carson@tpr.org or on Twitter @carson_frame and Steve Short can be reached at steve@tpr.org or on Twitter @tprsteve

Carson Frame can be reached carson@tpr.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame