The Justice Department announced Wednesday it reached a $144.5 million tentative settlement with the families and victims of the 2017 mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
If the settlement is approved by a court, it would end a yearslong legal battle over the federal government’s partial responsibility for the shooting that left 26 people dead and 22 wounded.
A judge ruled in 2021 that the U.S. Air Force failed to exercise reasonable care when it didn’t submit the shooter’s criminal history to the FBI’s background database, which “would have prevented him from purchasing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer,” DOJ said.
Devin Patrick Kelley, a former Air Force service member, opened fire during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in November 2017. The shooter died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“No words or amount of money can diminish the immense tragedy of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a press release. “Today’s announcement brings the litigation to a close, ending a painful chapter for the victims of this unthinkable crime.”
The tentative settlements will resolve claims by more than 75 plaintiffs arising out of the shooting, DOJ said.
DOJ reached a $127.5 million settlement with the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 and a $88 million settlement to the families of those killed in the South Carolina church shooting in 2015.
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