SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge says he’ll rule soon on whether to dismiss claims filed in several lawsuits against the U.S. Air Force in connection with a 2017 massacre at a Texas church that killed more than two dozen people.

Relatives of those killed or injured at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs sued, arguing that the federal government was negligent by failing to report gunman Devin Kelley’s criminal information to a national database used to conduct background checks of gun buyers.

The Express-News reports lawyers for the Justice Department argued Tuesday in court that federal employees should be shielded from the lawsuits.

Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman in a 2017 mass shooting at a Texas church told a military judge five years earlier that he
Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman in a 2017 mass shooting at a Texas church told a military judge five years earlier that he "would never allow myself to hurt someone" again while confessing to violently hitting his stepson. The Pentagon in 2018 released hundreds of court documents about the former Air Force member, who killed more than two dozen people during a rampage in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

A government report released last year said the Air Force failed repeatedly to report information that could have prevented Kelley, a former airman, from buying a gun.