Vice President Mike Pence pledged Wednesday to find out why a history of domestic violence by the gunman in Sunday’s deadly church attack was not reported to the FBI’s national crime database, and also to work with Congress to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Standing near the site of Sunday’s attack on a Sutherland, Texas, church, which killed 26 people and injured 20 others, Pence said a series of “bureaucratic failures” had allowed Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase firearms — even after, authorities discovered this week, he was found guilty of domestic violence by a military court and made death threats against his military superiors.
An Air Force review of why the military did not report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the National Crime Information Center in 2012, which would have blocked his ability to purchase a gun, would be completed in a matter of “days, not weeks,” Pence said. The vice president also said the Department of Defense was conducting its own review.
Pence, along with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, spent Wednesday visiting victims at Brooke Army Medical Center. They were accompanied by several other officials, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as they spoke with reporters. They planned to spend time with the families of those killed in the attack later in the evening.
The vice president said President Donald Trump, currently on a 12-day trip through Asia, asked him to make the trip to Sutherland to say: “We are with you. The American people are with you.” And, echoing the president’s statement Sunday, “we will never leave your side.”
Abbott said he visited a young victim Wednesday who was recovering from a back injury similar to one the governor suffered when he was 26 years old. He’s used a wheelchair ever since.
Abbott said he told the boy’s mother: “Who knows … one day he may grow up to be governor,” he said.
More than 100 FBI agents are still in Texas investigating the shooting, Pence said, adding the Trump administration was providing the “full measure” of federal resources to state and local authorities.
On Tuesday, Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced legislation that would prevent those convicted of domestic violence in the military from buying a gun, by fixing how domestic violence convictions are labeled and creating formal oversight of how they are reported, including an audit by the Office of the Inspector General, the senators said.