Parents of Sutherland Springs victim chastise federal gov't for failing to bar alleged gunman access to firearms

By John Suayan | Jun 15, 2018

SAN ANTONIO – The parents of one of the victims killed in a mass shooting at a Texas church last year have brought a $50 million lawsuit against the federal government.

Joe and Claryce Holcombe filed the 19-page suit on behalf of their late son, John Bryan, on June 6 in San Antonio federal court. The younger Holcombe was among the 26 people who died when a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5, 2017.

“(John Bryan Holcombe) was murdered as he walked to the pulpit to lead the congregation in worship,” the original petition says.

The alleged shooter was former Airman Devin P. Kelley, who later took his own life following a confrontation with a local resident and a high-speed car chase.

Court papers assert while the shooter “pulled the trigger,” the Air Force and others “allowed the shooter to purchase, own and/or possess the semiautomatic rifle, ammunition and body armor he used in the shooting spree, and such failures were a proximate cause, in whole or in part, of the injuries to and death of John Bryan Holcombe.”

Kelley, the complaint says, was court-martialed and convicted of assault against his wife and young stepson prior to the shooting in question therefore was prohibited by law to purchase or possess a firearm.

“Legal obligations were long ago imposed on the US Air Force that are necessary to prevent such a tragedy, but the US Air Force did not meet such obligations,” court papers state.

Robert E. Ammons of The Ammons Law Firm, L.L.P. in Houston serves as the complainants’ lead counsel.

San Antonio Division of the Western District of Texas Case No. 5:18-CV-0555

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