WASHINGTON — The Latest on the Pentagon’s responsibility to provide military criminal history information to the FBI (all times local):
The Pentagon has known for at least two decades about failures to give military criminal history information to the FBI, including the type of information the Air Force didn’t report about Texas church gunman Devin P. Kelley, who had assaulted his wife and stepson while he was an airman.
The Air Force lapse in the case is now under review by the Pentagon’s inspector general. That lapse made it possible for Kelley to buy guns before he killed 26 people Sunday at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
New details have emerged about Kelley’s troubled Air Force career. In 2012, several months before his conviction in the domestic violence case, Kelley escaped from a civilian mental health center where he had been placed by the Air Force for treatment.
The Air Force says federal privacy laws prohibit it from commenting on a news report that the gunman who attacked worshippers at a Texas church had escaped from a mental health facility in 2012 when he was an airman.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek cited privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which she said apply even though the gunman, Devin P. Kelley died in Sunday’s violence in Texas.
The report by KPRC-TV in Houston cited an El Paso Police Department report.
The TV station also reported that Kelley had made death threats against superior officers. Stefanek said the Air Force was looking into that report.
Texas’ senior senator says he wants to ensure the military complies with the law on background checks after the Air Force failed to submit the criminal history to the FBI of the gunman who killed 26 at a Texas church.
Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told reporters on Tuesday that he is working on legislation to get both the military and states to swiftly provide already-required criminal conviction records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The gunman had a history of domestic violence but was able to buy weapons because of the Air Force’s errors.
Cornyn said he hoped the legislation could get support from Republicans and Democrats.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he has directed the Pentagon’s watchdog to examine the circumstances of the Air Force’s failure to report the Texas church shooter’s domestic violence conviction to the FBI.
Mattis says we have to “find out what’s going on.”
Under Pentagon rules, convictions of military personnel in crimes like assault should be shared with the FBI for its National Criminal Information Center database. Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman in Sunday’s attack, was convicted of assault against his wife and stepson in an Air Force court-martial in 2012.
Mattis says the Pentagon must make certain it’s got “the right direction.” And he says he must “define what the problem is.”
Mattis says: “If the problem is we didn’t put something out, we’ll correct that.”