The Justice Department announced today an agreement in principle to settle the civil cases arising out of the tragic November 2017 mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, that killed 26 worshippers and injured 22 others.
These tentative settlements will resolve claims by more than 75 plaintiffs arising out of the shooting. Plaintiffs’ claims alleged that the Air Force was negligent when it failed to transmit to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) information about the shooter that would have prevented him from purchasing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer. A federal district court in Texas concluded that the United States was liable for damages caused by the shooting. This tentative settlement would resolve the pending appeals.
The agreement in principle would settle all claims for a total of $144.5 million. The settlement agreement has been approved, subject to the plaintiffs’ securing the required court approvals. Under applicable law, a court must approve some aspects of the settlements.
“No words or amount of money can diminish the immense tragedy of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s announcement brings the litigation to a close, ending a painful chapter for the victims of this unthinkable crime.”
The NICS plays a critical role in combatting gun violence, and the federal government is always striving to improve the functioning of that system. The department continues to work actively to combat gun violence as part of its comprehensive violent crime reduction strategy.