SUTHERLAND SPRINGS - Holcombe family members who lost nine loved ones in the Sutherland Springs church massacre have begun the process of determining if the Air Force was negligent in its handling of Devin Kelley's information.
The November 5 shooting claimed 26 lives.
Claryce Holcombe and Joe Holcombe lost their son, Bryan Holcombe, along with eight other family members in the shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
The family said they are committed to making sure no other family has to suffer a preventable loss and are filing a federal claim form with U.S. Government to determine negligence.
"I'm very hopeful for this claim, that this will be fixed and never happen again," said Joe. "You can't say that you don't regret this happening, but we know where they are. They're in a better place than here. It's not going to be long until we're going to be there and we'll be there a long time."
The claim comes as no surprise. The Air Force admitted, during the course of an investigation into the suspect Devin Kelley, that it did not submit information that would have stopped him from purchasing guns.
"Under a 1996 law preventing spouse and child abusers from possessing firearms, the service’s Office of Special Investigations should have entered that conviction into an FBI database,” says the family’s attorney Rob Ammons. "The office didn’t, the Air Force has admitted. What’s more, the acts Kelley pleaded guilty to — breaking his baby stepson’s skull and hitting and kicking his then-wife — were punishable by imprisonment of more than a year. That qualifies them as felonies, which must be entered into the database.”
Tuesday, the Air Force acknowledged (http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1382208/af-implements-changes/) they did not report the required information to law enforcement in Kelley's case, and similar reporting lapses occurred at other air force bases.
They say they have since started to correct the mistakes, and over the next several months they aim to have all airmen with criminal offenses in the database and proper information handed over to the FBI.
"God knows what He's doing," said Joe. "This may happen again, it may not. God has the plan. He wrote the book. We read the book. It has a happy ending."
© 2017 KENS-TV