Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Thursday said the service had talked to more than 100 people about how the Texas church shooter’s criminal history slipped through the cracks, with a draft report on the matter expected sometime next week.
“We’re moving very forward very quickly with that,” Wilson told reporters at the Pentagon.
“The offenses for which the shooter in Texas was court-martialed should have been reported and that's why we launched a full-scale review of this case and all others like it.”
Former Air Force serviceman Devin Kelley on Sunday shot and killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. After the rampage, it was discovered he had been court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and stepson, including cracking the infant's skull.
Kelley was demoted and sentenced to 12 months in jail before being dishonorably discharged in 2014. But the Air Force did not send his conviction to the FBI for entry into its National Criminal Information Center database, used to run background checks for firearm sales. If the information had been submitted, it is possible Kelley would have been barred from buying weapons.
When asked how Kelley’s criminal conviction had slipped through the cracks, Wilson replied, “that’s what the review will find out.”
“We do think that there was a problem,” she said. “Our responsibility is to look at what happened here, and why.”
Though a draft report is expected next week, it will take longer to fully review two Air Force databases to discover if the service has “other cases where it was not properly reported,” she said.
Wilson said one database holds electronic records that go back to 2002, and another manual database dates back to 1996.
Wilson has been in office since May, and said she had not been aware that the Air Force had a problem with reporting criminal history data to the FBI prior to the shooting.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters that 12 of the 26 people killed in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church were “either members or with family ties,” to the Air Force.
He added that the Air Force will extend resources to the victims' families, and that he plans to visit the San Antonio area next week.