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Lawsuit Filed Against Academy by Family of Church Shooting Victims


December 16, 2017

by Katrina Katsarelis

KATY, TEXAS -- A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday against Academy Sports + Outdoors in San Antonio last week by the family of Joann Ward and her two daughters, three of the 26 people killed in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church shooting on November 5, 2017. The lawsuit is seeking $25 million in damages against the Katy-based sporting goods chain that sold two firearms to the shooter. The lawsuit claims Academy was negligent in selling to Devin Patrick Kelley an AR-556 rifle used in the deadly mass murder.

In a statement released on November 6, Academy offered condolences to the victims but said it complied with all laws. The statement previously released by Academy is as follows.

Academy Sports + Outdoors sends our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the entire Sutherland Springs community. Based on information we received from law enforcement, we confirmed that the suspect purchased two firearms from two San Antonio locations, one in 2016 and one in 2017. We also confirmed that both sales were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). We are cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate further.

Lawsuits Against U.S. Air Force

The Ward family is also suing the U.S. Air Force for not reporting Devin Patrick Kelley's violent past to the FBI.

After the shooting, the Air Force admitted it never reported Kelley’s criminal record to the FBI. Kelley was able to pass several criminal background checks when he bought at least four firearms from licensed dealers, one of which was Academy Sport + Outdoors.

The Air Force had filed assault charges against Kelley in 2012 when he was serving in the military and was accused of assaulting his wife and baby stepson. Kelley was convicted, served a 12-month sentence and was issued a bad conduct discharge in 2014.

In addition to the Wards, at least three other families of Sutherland Springs victims have filed similar legal claims against the Air Force: The Holcombes, the Ramseys and the son of Lula White, the grandmother of Kelley’s wife.

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