Parents of Pastor Killed in Sutherland Springs Shooting Sue U.S. Air Force

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Bryan and Karla Holcombe were both killed on November 5 - TWITTER VIA @MOMSDEMAND
  • Twitter via @MomsDemand
  • Bryan and Karla Holcombe were both killed on November 5
The couple that lost eight family members in the Sutherland Springs mass shooting has sued the United States Air Force for the death of of their son, John Bryan Holcombe, in the November 5 attack.

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. Kelley killed 26, including Bryan, before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Bryan ... was shot in the back while walking to the church pulpit to lead the congregation in worship. He died on the floor of the church,"  reads the claim filed by Bryan's father, Joe Holcombe. "Joe Holcombe has suffered grievous mental anguish from the death of his son and the loss of his society, companionship and affection."

Bryan's parents, Joe and Claryce Holcombe each filed near-identical wrongful death claims against the Air Force November 25. Their claims are based on the fact that Kelley had been convicted of domestic abuse while in the Air Force, but the Air Force hadn't entered the charge into a federal criminal database. If that information was submitted, it could have kept Kelley from ever purchasing a firearm.

The Holcombes claim the Air Force's error (which the government claims it knew about for years) led to Kelley purchasing the weapons used to kill their son.

"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.

Days after the claims were filed, the Air Force released a statement about their investigation into their failure to report Kelley's conviction.

"The error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident," the statement reads. "Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking."

A full review from the Air Force is expected to come out in several months.

It's unknown how much money the Holcombes have asked for to cover the "wrongful death damages" suffered as a result of their son's death.

According to Joe's claim, he's suffered the following damages: "the loss of past and future income, support, society, love, grief, consortium, services, guidance, care, comfort, companionship ... loss of life's pleasures, loss of enjoyment of life, damages for mental pain and suffering."

This is the first lawsuit filed on behalf of the Sutherland Springs victims.


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