Incident Detail

Last Updated on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 @ 9:47 PM by Editor

Incident Details

Incident
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs
Municipality
Sutherland Springs
State
Texas – TX
Zip Code
78161
Region
South
Division
West South Central
Incident Date
November 5, 2017
Venue Type
Religious
Killed
26
Injured
20

Incident Ranking Data

Preventable Factors/Rankings
196 1625855214 Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent - Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Behavior Personally Erratic/Deviated from Individual/Societal Norms Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Was in Directed and Overt Incident Preparatory Mode Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Expressed Suicidal Ideation and/or Suicide by Police and/or Expressed Violent Intentions Privately and/or Publicly in Person and/or In Any Medium3 Commercial Establishment Failure - Commercial Establishment Failure Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Custodial Issues - Questionable Release/Remand of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable "Blue Paper" Rejections of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable Search Warrant Rejection(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed Response or Inaction to Perpetrator(s) at Incident Scene Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed/Ignored/or No Follow-up to Telltale Perpetrator(s) Event(s) Preceding Incident Criminal Justice System Failures - Probation/Parole Failure - Failure to Pursue/Report Probation/Parole Violation(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Prosecutorial Failure - Failure to Pursue Warranted Criminal Charges Against Perpetrator(s) and/or Failure to Petition the Court for a Red Flag Hearing Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Contributed to Perpetrator(s) Execution of the Incident Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Exacerbated the Incident Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Attested to Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Charged With Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Identified With Metal Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Unnecessarily Accessible Perpetrator(s) Weapon(s) - Weapon(s) Was Unnecessarily Accessible to the Perpetrator Venue Lacked Armed Individuals/Personnel - Venue Lacked Armed Individuals (Civilians)/Personnel (Military/Police/Security) Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Structural Security Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Structural Security was Nonexistent Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Perimeter Security Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Perimeter Security was Nonexistent Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) - Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) Whatever System Failure - Whatever System Failure
94 1621629289 Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent - Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Behavior Personally Erratic/Deviated from Individual/Societal Norms Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Was in Directed and Overt Incident Preparatory Mode Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Expressed Suicidal Ideation and/or Suicide by Police and/or Expressed Violent Intentions Privately and/or Publicly in Person and/or In Any Medium Commercial Establishment Failure - Commercial Establishment Failure Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Custodial Issues - Questionable Release/Remand of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable "Blue Paper" Rejections of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable Search Warrant Rejection(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed Response or Inaction to Perpetrator(s) at Incident Scene Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed/Ignored/or No Follow-up to Telltale Perpetrator(s) Event(s) Preceding Incident Criminal Justice System Failures - Probation/Parole Failure - Failure to Pursue/Report Probation/Parole Violation(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Prosecutorial Failure - Failure to Pursue Warranted Criminal Charges Against Perpetrator(s) and/or Failure to Petition the Court for a Red Flag Hearing Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Contributed to Perpetrator(s) Execution of the Incident Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Exacerbated the Incident Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Attested to Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Charged With Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Identified With Metal Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Unnecessarily Accessible Perpetrator(s) Weapon(s) - Weapon(s) Was Unnecessarily Accessible to the Perpetrator3 Venue Lacked Armed Individuals/Personnel - Venue Lacked Armed Individuals (Civilians)/Personnel (Military/Police/Security) Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Structural Security Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Structural Security was Nonexistent Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Perimeter Security Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Perimeter Security was Nonexistent Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) - Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) Whatever System Failure - Whatever System Failure
93 1621629268 Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent - Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Behavior Personally Erratic/Deviated from Individual/Societal Norms Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Was in Directed and Overt Incident Preparatory Mode Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Expressed Suicidal Ideation and/or Suicide by Police and/or Expressed Violent Intentions Privately and/or Publicly in Person and/or In Any Medium Commercial Establishment Failure - Commercial Establishment Failure Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Custodial Issues - Questionable Release/Remand of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable "Blue Paper" Rejections of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable Search Warrant Rejection(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed Response or Inaction to Perpetrator(s) at Incident Scene Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed/Ignored/or No Follow-up to Telltale Perpetrator(s) Event(s) Preceding Incident Criminal Justice System Failures - Probation/Parole Failure - Failure to Pursue/Report Probation/Parole Violation(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Prosecutorial Failure - Failure to Pursue Warranted Criminal Charges Against Perpetrator(s) and/or Failure to Petition the Court for a Red Flag Hearing Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Contributed to Perpetrator(s) Execution of the Incident Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Exacerbated the Incident Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Attested to Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Charged With Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Identified With Metal Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Unnecessarily Accessible Perpetrator(s) Weapon(s) - Weapon(s) Was Unnecessarily Accessible to the Perpetrator Venue Lacked Armed Individuals/Personnel - Venue Lacked Armed Individuals (Civilians)/Personnel (Military/Police/Security)3 Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Structural Security Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Structural Security was Nonexistent Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Perimeter Security Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Perimeter Security was Nonexistent Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) - Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) Whatever System Failure - Whatever System Failure
92 1621629242 Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent - Behavioral Red Flag Law(s) Nonexistent Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Behavior Personally Erratic/Deviated from Individual/Societal Norms Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Was in Directed and Overt Incident Preparatory Mode Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed - Perpetrator(s) Expressed Suicidal Ideation and/or Suicide by Police and/or Expressed Violent Intentions Privately and/or Publicly in Person and/or In Any Medium Commercial Establishment Failure - Commercial Establishment Failure Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Custodial Issues - Questionable Release/Remand of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable "Blue Paper" Rejections of Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Judicial System Failure - Questionable Search Warrant Rejection(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed Response or Inaction to Perpetrator(s) at Incident Scene Criminal Justice System Failures - Law Enforcement Failure - Delayed/Ignored/or No Follow-up to Telltale Perpetrator(s) Event(s) Preceding Incident Criminal Justice System Failures - Probation/Parole Failure - Failure to Pursue/Report Probation/Parole Violation(s) for Perpetrator(s) Criminal Justice System Failures - Prosecutorial Failure - Failure to Pursue Warranted Criminal Charges Against Perpetrator(s) and/or Failure to Petition the Court for a Red Flag Hearing Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Contributed to Perpetrator(s) Execution of the Incident Gun Laws Inadequate - Inadequate Gun Law(s) Exacerbated the Incident Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Attested to Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Charged With Mental Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Mental Health System Failures/Interventions Lacking - Incident Principals Identified With Metal Health System Failure for Perpetrator(s) Unnecessarily Accessible Perpetrator(s) Weapon(s) - Weapon(s) Was Unnecessarily Accessible to the Perpetrator Venue Lacked Armed Individuals/Personnel - Venue Lacked Armed Individuals (Civilians)/Personnel (Military/Police/Security) Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Structural Security Venue Structural Security Lacking - Venue Structural Security was Nonexistent Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Had Limited Perimeter Security Venue Perimeter Security Lacking - Venue Perimeter Security was Nonexistent Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) - Vexatious Cascade of Events Beset Perpetrator(s) Whatever System Failure - Whatever System Failure3
    Blatant Ranking - Points Doubled
    3
    Preventable Rankings Score
    15
    Preventable Status
    Minimally Preventable

    Incident Preventable Factors Details

    Preventable Factor Details

    Last Updated on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 @ 9:47 PM by Editor

    Takeaways: —The perpetrator had explicitly expressed on many occasions his desire to commit violent acts including a mass shooting. A simple clerical error allows a perpetrator to illegally purchase guns four times, including the one he used to kill and injure numerous innocent people.  All our systems must work flawlessly all the time. —Armed personnel, good guys with guns, need to be in every venue.

    Incident Preventable Factors:

    Behavioral Red Flags Ignored/Response Delayed – Perpetrator(s) Expressed Suicidal Ideation and/or Suicide by Police and/or Expressed Violent Intentions Privately and/or Publicly in Person and/or In Any Medium: The perpetrator had explicitly expressed on many occasions in the years prior to the incident his desire to commit violent acts including a mass shooting. While this is very disturbing, there may not have been any singular opportunities for authorities to act against him that would have amounted to him having been anything but a free man on the day of the incident, and therefore free to perpetrate the incident. However, if authorities had had the resolve, it’s possible the totality of the perpetrators expressed violence might have been sufficient for some level of intervention. While not necessarily adequate (and probably not adequate) to deprive him of his freedom it might have served to “warn” him leaving him with less impunity. In other words, it might have served to unemboldened him. Updated: On July 7, 2021, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio, Texas, wrote in a ruling “The trial conclusively established that no other individual—not even [the perpetrator’s] own parents or partners—knew as much as the United States about the violence that [the perpetrator] had threatened to commit and was capable of committing.” 1 —Unnecessarily Accessible Perpetrator Weapon(s) – Weapon(s) Was Unnecessarily Accessible to the Perpetrator: The perpetrator bought weapons four times illegally (including the April 7, 2016, purchase of a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle that was used during the incident) because the United States Air Force failed to provide authorities with information, according to a Pentagon Inspector General’s report.  The perpetrator was prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing guns and ammunition due to a domestic violence conviction in a court-martial while in the United States Air Force. The United States Air Force failed to record the conviction in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which is used by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to flag prohibited purchases. The report also details the perpetrator’s criminal record, mental health crises, and his threats of mass murder and suicide. 2 3 Editor’s Note: If the perpetrator had been unable to legally purchase guns and ammunition would he have acquired the same by other means? Who knows, but there’s a least an even chance he wouldn’t have known where to source illegal guns or the black market sellers might not of sold to him for a variety of reasons. In addition, buying black market guns is quite a bit more expensive (generally hundreds of dollars more) that purchasing them legally at retail prices, particularly if they’re “clean” and not “dirty.” A “clean” gun  is one that hasn’t been previously used in the commission of a crime(s) while a “dirty” gun is one that has. So affordability for the perpetrator might have prevented him from buying black market guns. In any event, this is deemed blatant and therefore the ranking points have been doubled. Updated: On July 7, 2021, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio, Texas, wrote in a ruling that the [United States] Air Force was “60% responsible” for the incident and if they had done their job and entered the perpetrator’s history into the applicable database, “it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been deterred from carrying out the [incident].” 1 —Venue Lacked Armed Individuals/Personnel – Venue Lacked Armed Individuals (Civilians)/Personnel (Military/Police/Security): There is no evidence to suggest that anyone at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs was armed on the day of the incident. An civilian armed with one of his AR-15 rifles did ultimately arrive at the church after hearing gunshots at his home and learning they were coming from the church. The civilian confronted the shooter during which there was an exchange of gunfire and the civilian apparently hit the shooter a total of four times. The shooter fled the scene in his vehicle and was pursued by the civilian and another civilian who was nearby in his vehicle at the time of the incident.  Miles from the church the shooter’s vehicle left the road for the second time, crashing through a fence, and came to a stop in a field. The two civilians stayed with their vehicle at a distance until police arrived. Nearly and hour later a police drone determined the shooter was dead in his vehicle from a self-inflicted gunshot to his head. 4 The benefit of having armed civilians in venues was made abundantly clear on December 29, 2019, when  two people were shot and killed during a shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ, White Settlement, Texas, on December 29, 2019, before the lone perpetrator was fatally shot by Jack Wilson, a volunteer security team member. Wilson is a firearms instructor and a former reserve deputy sheriff in Hood County, Texas. Five or six other members of the church assembly also drew their own weapons in response to the shooting. 5 —Whatever System Failure – Whatever System Failure: (As illustrated.)

    Sources:

    1. Associated Press, The. July 7, 2021. “Judge Says the Air Force Is Mostly Responsible for A 2017 Texas Church Shooting”. NPR. Retereived July 9, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2021/07/07/1013832724/judge-says-the-air-force-is-mostly-responsible-for-a-2017-texas-church-shooting. 2. Brook, Tom Vanden. December 7, 2018. “Air Force Failed Four Times to Prevent Sutherland Springs Church Killer From Buying Guns. USA Today. Retereived June 26, 2021, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/07/air-force-failed-four-times-prevent-sutherland-springs-shooter-gun-purchase/2237400002/. 3. None. Last edited on May 26, 2021. “Sutherland Springs Church Shooting”. Wikipedia. Retereived June 26, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutherland_Springs_church_shooting. 4. Mooney, Michael J. November 2018. “The Hero of the Sutherland Springs Shooting Is Still Reckoning With What Happened That Day”. Texas Monthly. Retereived June 26, 2021, from https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/stephen-willeford-sutherland-springs-mass-murder/. 5. None. April 26, 2021. “West Freeway Church of Christ Shooting”. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 13, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Freeway_Church_of_Christ_shooting.

    Incident Fluidity

    Criminal Case Pending?
    Civil Litigation Pending?

    Incident Administrative Information

    Credible Source Inquires?
    4
    Are Credible Source Inquires Inline Endnotes?
    Assessment Status?
    Incomplete
    Editorial Board Approval?
    yes

    Incident Record Information

    Record ID
    6
    Private ID
    0029YBI
    Date Recorded
    2021-05-13 22:43:22
    Date Updated
    2021-09-22 18:34:17
    Last Accessed