JudicialJudge Determines Damages for Sutherland Springs Survivors, Relatives to Be Paid by Federal Government

A federal court in San Antonio has the grim task of reckoning monetary damages for victims and survivors of the Sutherland Springs massacre.
February 14, 2022
A federal court in San Antonio is working through the grim task of reckoning monetary damages for victims and survivors of the Sutherland Springs massacre, a mass shooting that took place at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017.

Judge Xavier Rodriguez determined cash award amounts for each plaintiff — all survivors of the shooting and relatives of the wounded or slain — in a document issued February 7.

One of the plaintiffs, a child aged seven at the time of the shooting, said her mother begged shooter Devin Kelley to spare her children. Kelley shot the mother and several other members of her family in front of the child, who was found underneath the bodies with trample injuries. Her stepfather said that she continued to ask for her mother in the year following the shooting before maturing to the point of grasping permanent loss. Rodriguez awarded her $3,008,487.90.

Because of disciplinary problems during Kelley’s Air Force service, Rodriguez already found in July that the United States government was 60 percent responsible for the shooting.

Specifically, according to a report by the Department of Defense, the Air Force failed to submit Kelley’s criminal history information to the FBI.

The Texan Tumbler

Kelley had a court-martial conviction on his record for assaulting his wife in stepson — a crime that would have prevented Kelley from buying his AR-556 rifle if it showed up in federal databases. Investigated twice during his time in the Air Force, military authorities should have submitted his fingerprints and later a final disposition report of his conviction to the FBI, the Department of Defense wrote.

During the shooting, Kelley started by opening fire outside the church before moving in while the churchgoers were taking cover. A citizen named Stephen Willeford drew Kelley outside. Kelley fled and committed suicide by gunshot. In total, 26 people were killed and 24 injured.

According to Rodriguez’s February 7 order, the plaintiffs have 10 days to propose final judgments in their individual cases. The U.S. government may file objections to their proposals within 10 days of their filing.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.