Closing arguments over, judge to decide verdict in Sutherland Springs church shooting civil trial

Judge ruling expected next month

A law enforcement official continues to work the shooting scene at the First Baptist Church Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and injuring others. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – On the 10th day of a bench trial, both sides rested in the civil lawsuit filed over the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

After hearing closing arguments, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez will now decide whether the government has some blame for the shooting that left 26 people dead.

Several family members of victims from the Nov. 5, 2017 shooting filed a lawsuit against the United States alleging failure by the U.S. Air Force to enter shooter Devin Kelley in the national background check database following a domestic violence conviction.

The government argued that even if Kelley’s name was in that database, he would have still committed the shooting because of his prior actions and comments.

Also, the government does not believe the Air Force holds responsibility saying the full burden should be on Kelley himself and Academy Sports and Outdoors for selling him the gun when he had an out-of-state license from Colorado.

Colorado law bans assault weapons like the one Kelley purchased in 2016 from an Academy store in San Antonio.

Kelley had previously been denied the purchase of a gun at Dick’s Sporting Goods because of his out-of-state license but was able to then buy an AR-556 at Academy.

It could be several weeks before Judge Rodriguez gives his ruling.


About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast South Texas Crime Stories.