Family of Sutherland Springs Victims Sues Academy Over Gun Sale

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A family who lost three members in the Sutherland Springs church shooting is suing Academy Sports & Outdoors over the sale of the weapon used in the massacre, according to documents obtained by San Antonio Express-News.

The family of Joann Ward, 30, and her daughters Brooke Ward, 5, and Emily Garcia, 7, who died in the November 5 shooting, are seeking $25 million in damages, accusing Academy of not complying with the law when it sold Sutherland Springs shooter Devin Patrick Kelley a gun at a San Antonio store.

Ward’s parents and her husband, Chris Ward, claim Academy should not have sold a firearm to Kelley in Texas because he listed an address in Colorado Springs on a firearm record form, according to the Express-News. The lawsuit claims the rifle should have been sent to his residence in Colorado — instead, Kelley was able to walk out of the San Antonio Academy store with the rifle used in the shooting.

An unrelated group of gun control advocates have been asking the sporting goods store to stop selling semi-automatic firearms altogether.

Joann’s surviving daughter, Rihanna, told a family friend her mother had tried to shield her four children when the shooting began. Joann’s 5-year-old stepson Ryland Ward is still recovering in the hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

The firearm record form is not the only controversy related to Kelley’s gun ownership. Kelley was convicted of domestic abuse while in the United States Air Force, and should not have been allowed to purchase a firearm. But the Air Force admitted it had failed to enter Kelley’s criminal charge into a federal criminal database for background checks on gun purchases.

The Holcombe family, who lost eight members in the church shooting, sued the Air Force for missing this crucial step.