Texas church shooter passed background checks for gun purchases in San Antonio

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, killed 26 people on Sunday

SAN ANTONIO – The man identified as the gunman in the worst mass shooting in modern Texas history twice passed a background check when purchasing firearms at San Antonio area Academy Sports + Outdoors stores, a spokeswoman for the company confirmed Monday.

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He also legally purchased two firearms in 2014 and 2015 in Colorado.

The Air Force confirmed Monday that it did not submit Devin Patrick Kelley's criminal history to FBI, as required by Pentagon rules.

The Air Force has launched a review of how the information was handled and said in a statement:

Kelley was convicted by a general court-martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and step-son under Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He then served 12-months in confinement at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California before being released with a Bad Conduct Discharge in 2014. He was also reduced in grade to E-1. Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein directed a complete review of the Kelley case by the Air Force Office of the Inspector General. The Service will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly. The Air Force has also requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review records and procedures across the Department of Defense.

Kelley, 26, purchased a firearm in 2016. He then bought a second one this year and on both occasions was cleared through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), according to the spokeswoman.

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Investigators confirmed Monday morning that they recovered a Ruger assault-type rifle at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and two handguns in Kelley's sport utility vehicle.

All three firearms were purchased by Kelley, according to ATF Agent Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge of the Houston field office.

Investigators have not confirmed to KSAT 12 whether the firearms purchased at Academy were among those recovered after the shooting.

The ATF's Firearm Transaction Record, which potential gun owners must fill out prior to purchasing a firearm, includes three questions that could pertain to Kelley.

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Question "C" asks whether a person has been convicted of a felony or any other crime in which a judge could sentence him or her to a year or more in prison.

Air Force records confirm Kelley served 12 months of military confinement after being court-martialed for a domestic violence incident in 2012 involving his then-wife and her child.

Question "G" asks whether a person was discharged from the armed forces under "dishonorable conditions."

Kelley separated from the Air Force following the domestic violence incident under a bad conduct discharge.

An Air Force spokeswoman told KSAT 12 Monday that a bad conduct discharge would not necessarily prevent someone from legally purchasing a firearm.

ATF officials have said they are still gathering and reviewing documents related to Kelley.
Question "I" asks whether a person has ever been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

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Although the military court convictions were for domestic related offenses, they do not show up in a criminal background check of Kelley, and the Air Force has not released specific details about the language of the final conviction on his military record.

Firearms Transaction Record

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.