The Holcombe family, who lost nine members in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church massacre, has accused the U.S. Air Force of negligence in connection with the Nov. 5 shooting and have filed a federal claim with the U.S. government.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that the claim could be the first step in a lawsuit against the Air Force if the service denies responsibility for the attack, in which former Air Force member Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 people and injured 20 others.
Among the dead were nine members of the Holcombe family: Karla; Bryan; Crystal, who was pregnant; and five others.
Christopher Foster, a family friend, set up an online fundraising account shortly after the shooting to raise money for the surviving family members.
“It’s going to take a lot of funds to cover eight funerals, lost wages, perhaps child/adult counseling, and who knows what else,” Foster said in a Facebook message at the time. “No matter what number the (fundraiser) reaches, it will never be enough. But everything helps.”
Kelley had been convicted of domestic violence while in the Air Force and was discharged from the service.
That conviction should have prevented him from owning, possessing or purchasing weapons, but the Air Force admitted shortly after the incident that the conviction was not reported to the proper authorities.
The Associated Press on Tuesday reported that the Air Force said its failure to report Kelley’s criminal history was part of a pattern of such lapses.
The service cited failures in training and compliance and said they have taken actions to ensure such failures are prevented in the future.
Houston-based attorney Rob Ammons is representing the Holcombe family. Calls to his office by the American-Statesman were not immediately returned.