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Tag: Texas

FBI’s Gun Background Checks Are Missing Millions of Problematic Cases

background checkBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Millions of people who should be barred from legally buying guns may still be eligible to purchase a firearm because government agencies are failing to alert the FBI’s background-check system of citizens with criminal convictions and mental illnesses.

The Air Force, for example, acknowledged it erred by failing to notify the FBI of the Texas church shooter who killed 26 people earlier this month. The gunman had been court-martialed on charges of beating his wife and child. He also escaped a mental health institution after threatening to kill superiors.

The Air Force’s failure to flag the former airman is part of a larger systemic breakdown in which government agencies are failing to forward criminal records and mental health diagnoses to the FBI gun background checks, the Washington Post reports

The FBI is uncertain how widespread the problem is, but the NRA estimates about 7 million records are missing from the system, according to a 2013 report by the nonprofit National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. The reported found that “at least 25% of felony convictions … are not available” to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

FBI Missed Critical 48-Hour Window to Open Church Shooter’s iPhone

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI failed to ask Apple to help unlock the iPhone of the Texas church shooter in the two days following the massacre that left 26 people dead.

Apple, which has refused to offer help unlocking encrypted phones in the past, said it offered to assist the FBI but agents never reached out, Business Insider reports

“Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone,” Apple said in a statement. “We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.”

The phone, instead, was sent to a lab for analysis.

As a result, the FBI lost 48 hours without locking the device by using the finger prints of the shooter, Devin Kelley, if the phone was fingerprint-access enabled.

That’s significant because iPhones locked with a fingerprint for 48 hours or more require the user’s passcode.

The FBI declined to comment.

Air Force Admits Missing Chances to Prevent Church Shooter from Buying Guns

airforceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Air Force took responsibility for not alerting the FBI to the Texas church shooter’s domestic violence-related convictions, a failure that allowed former Airman Devin Kelley to purchase guns.

Had the Air Force reported the incidents to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, he would have been barred from buying a firearm.

“The offenses for which the shooter in Texas was court-martialed should have been reported, and that’s why we launched a full-scale review of this case, and all others like it,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told reporters on Thursday, ABC News reports.

The failure has prompted several investigations. In addition to the Air Force’s internal probe, the Department of Defense Inspector General is investigating all military branches to see if there is a pattern of failing to report violent crimes to NCIC.

“We are looking at all of our databases, and if we have problems that we find, we’ll fix them,” Wilson said. “Our approach here is to act in accordance with our values, which include integrity and excellence, and that’s the way we’re proceeding.”

In 2012, Kelley was court-martialed while serving in the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child. He served a year in confinement and received a bad conduct discharge.

That information was never passed on.

Not Again? FBI Unable to Unlock Cell Phone of Texas Church Shooter

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Here we go again?

The FBI has been unable to unlock the encrypted cellphone of the Texas church shooter, mirroring similar difficulties trying to access the locked phone of a San Bernardino mass shooter more than a year ago.

The phone of Devin Kelley could provide critical information about his motive and whether anyone else was involved or knew in advance that he planned to unload his firearms inside a church in Texas. The phone has been sent to an FBI lab for analysis.

Phone encryption has been a source of frustration for the FBI, which tried to force Apple to help it access the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone last year. Professional hackers eventually helped the FBI unlock the phone

Congress has been reluctant to enact legislation that would force technology companies to help open the phones of criminal suspects.

“It highlights an issue you’ve all heard about before. With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryption, law enforcement is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said, according to the Associated Press. 

Combs added: “We’re working very hard to get into that phone, and that will continue until we find an answer.”

Air Force Error Allowed Texas Mass Shooter with Violent History to Buy Firearms

Church shooter Devin Kelley

Church shooter Devin Kelley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Texas church gunman who killed 26 people and wounded 20 more worshipers at a Texas church on Sunday should never have been able to buy the guns he used in the massacre.

But the Air Force failed to notify the FBI that Devin Kelley was sentenced to a year of confinement after a court martial found him guilty on two charges of domestic assault. According to numerous reports, Kelley brutally assaulted his wife, threatened her multiple times with loaded and unloaded guns and cracked his stepson’s skull. 

The Air Force failed to enter the domestic violence conviction into the National Criminal Investigation Center database, which would have prohibited him from buying a gun legally.

That omission allowed Kelley to pass background checks to buy four guns, some of which were used in the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

Several investigation are underway to determine why the Air Force never flagged Kelley.

Authorities also revealed Monday that Kelley was involved in a dispute with his mother-in-law, who attended the church in the past but was not there Sunday.

“He expressed anger towards his mother-in-law,”  Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas department of public safety, said at a press conference on Monday. “This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs.”

Investigators Search for Motive in Mass Shooting at Texas Church

Church shooter Devin Kelley

Church shooter Devin Kelley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Investigators are trying to determine what motivated a 26-year-old former Air Force member to dress in black commando gear and a tactical vest and open fire at the First Baptist Church in a small Texas town, killing 26 people Sunday.

Among those killed were eight family members.

The gunman fled in his car after a local man began shooting at him, causing the suspect to run off the roadway, where authorities believe he took his own life or was shot in an exchange of gunfire with the armed resident, the Washington Post reports

“There was some gunfire exchanged, I believe, on the roadway also, and then [the gunman’s vehicle] wrecked out,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CBS News. “At this time we believe that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after he wrecked out.”

Few details were immediately known about the shooter, identified as Devin Kelley, who was released from the Air Force with a bad-conduct discharge in 2014. At one point, Kelley had seven as a logistical readiness airman stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

DEA Arrests Border Patrol Agent on Drug Possession Charges in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Gregory Dylan Sessions

Border Patrol Agent Gregory Dylan Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent has been arrested and charged on drug possession charges in Texas.

The DEA busted Gregory Dylan Sessions, who posted a $20,000 bond and has been released from jail, MySanAntonio.com reports

Sessions, who is assigned to the Carrizo Springs Station, which is about 80 miles north of Laredo, has worked with the agency for six years.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” read a statement from Customs and Border Protection Spokesman Dennis Smith. “We do not tolerate corruption within our ranks, nor acts which tarnish our agency’s reputation. We fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

Details of the arrest remain murky. It wasn’t immediately clear what drugs were involved.

Other Stories of Interest

Border Patrol Detains 10-Year-Old Girl After She Underwent Emergency Surgery

border-patrol-suv-via-border-patrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 10-year-old girl in Texas with cerebral palsy was detained by Border Patrol agents soon after she underwent emergency surgery.

Agents were first alerted to the girl, who is an undocumented immigrant, while she was en route to a children’s hospital for gallbladder surgery, according to her family and immigration rights advocates, the Independent reports

Rosemaria Hernandez is facing an extended stay in a detention center if her family doesn’t sign a voluntary department form that would send her back to Mexico, where she has not lives since her family moved her illegally to the U.S. when she was three months old.