SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge has rejected a defense request to claims against the U.S. Air Force stemming from a 2017 massacre at a Texas church that left more than two dozen people dead.

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

The Justice Department argued federal employees should be shielded from the lawsuits. However, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez ruled Thursday that doesn’t mean the government should be shielded.

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

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