Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday he has instructed the Pentagon watchdog to “find out what’s going on” with the Air Force’s failure to report the Texas church shooting suspect’s criminal history.
“If the problem is we didn’t put something out, we’ll correct that,” said Mr. Mattis, as reported by The Associated Press.
The Air Force launched a review Monday after admitting that Holloman Air Force Base neglected to submit the criminal history of former Airman Devin Patrick Kelley to the FBI’s National Criminal Information Center, the federal database for background checks involving firearms purchases.
Kelley, who’s suspected of killing 26 and wounding 20 in Sunday’s Texas church massacre, was sentenced to 12 months after being convicted in a 2012 court-martial of assault on his then-wife and stepson.
He hit his stepson so hard that he fractured his skull, and later pleaded guilty to doing so intentionally, The New York Times reported.
His criminal record under Pentagon rules should have been submitted to the FBI, whose regulations on background checks prohibit domestic-violence offenders from purchasing firearms.
SEE ALSO: Air Force didn’t submit Texas church shooter’s criminal history to FBI: Officials
Those who receive military dishonorable discharges are also forbidden from buying guns. It’s unclear whether the rule would have included Kelley, who received a bad-conduct discharge.
Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine four-star general, said the Pentagon needs to be sure it has “the right direction” and must “define what the problem is.”
Kelley, 26, purchased four firearms from 2014-17, and passed two background checks from Academy Sports gun stores in San Antonio.
Authorities said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after fleeing the scene of the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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