Report | Dec. 6, 2018

Report of Investigation into the United States Air Force’s Failure to Submit Devin Kelley’s Criminal History Information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation DODIG-2019-030


On November 5, 2017, a former Air Force member, Devin Kelley, shot and killed 26 people and wounded 22 others at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kelley was able to purchase a firearm from a federal firearms licensed dealer, even though he had a disqualifying conviction while in the Air Force. He had been discharged from the Air Force in 2014 after being convicted of assault. Because of that conviction, the Air Force should have sent his fingerprints and final disposition report to the FBI, which should have prevented him from legally buying a gun. However, the Air Force did not submit his fingerprints or a final disposition report documenting his conviction to the FBI for inclusion in its criminal history databases, which allowed him to purchase the weapons he used in the shooting.

The DoD OIG conducted this exhaustive investigation to determine Kelley’s actions while in the Air Force, and to examine why the Air Force had not provided his fingerprints to the FBI, as was required.

The DoD OIG determined that the Air Force had four opportunities to submit Kelley’s fingerprints to the FBI, but did not. On four occasions, Kelley purchased firearms from stores that were Federal Firearms Licensees and completed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Form 4473, which is required to obtain a firearm license. Since the Air Force did not submit fingerprints to the FBI prohibiting the sale of firearms to Kelley, he was able to purchase the firearms.