The Air Force has discovered "several dozen" cases in which it failed to report convictions of service members to the national background check database used for gun sales, a spokesperson told HuffPost Tuesday.
The policy and procedural changes come almost a month after the Air Force acknowledged that it never sent Texas shooter Devin Kelley's domestic violence conviction to the NCIS database.
"They have a policy and they just didn't do their job". Holcombe, who went by his middle name, Bryan, was the guest pastor leading the Sunday sermon at First Baptist Church when gunman Devin Kelley opened fire on the congregation.
The Air Force is reviewing how it reports convictions to the background check system after a mass shooting in a Texas church earlier this month left 26 people dead.
Kelley was convicted by a general court-martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and step-son under Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. "The Department of Defense, including, but not limited to the US Air Force, utterly failed in their reporting obligations which was the proximate cause of the decedent JB Holcombe's death", the claim reads.
They are seeking an undisclosed amount in wrongful death damages. But since the Air Force failed to report it, Kelley was able to purchase the guns without a single issue. This is the first lawsuit filed on behalf of the Sutherland Springs victims.
"It was a leadership oversight", an Air Force spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, explaining that the previous procedure had only required officials at field offices to register criminal records with the NCIS.
"We will communicate progress directly with the claimant, or their representative, as appropriate", she said.
Kelley had a domestic violence conviction in 2012 stemming from an attack on his wife and infant stepson while he was in the Air Force, which should have kept him from purchasing the rifle used in the massacre along with others he acquired.
This system pulls information from three separate databases. Additional senior officials will also be able to enter and view a service member's record into the Air Force's investigation management system.
The US Army was not included in the report.
The lapses in NCIS reporting extend beyond the Air Force.
The defense department is also investigating whether records from other branches of the military have been submitted appropriately.
On November 6, after the shooting, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he was "in search of answers". "I don't know if we'd even know about it".
Kirsten Gillibrand, US senator for NY, called on the Pentagon to review old cases to "prevent this deadly mistake from happening again".
The review also found the error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations. "Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking". The investigation is "ongoing" and "will be completed over the next several months", he said.
The arrests date back to 2002, though its unclear how many have actually been reviewed.
"They want to do everything that they can to make a difference and prevent this from happening again", Ammons said.