An elderly couple who lost nine family members during the horrific mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this month has filed a claim against the U.S. Air Force.
Joe and Claryce Holcombe are seeking answers surrounding how gunman Devin Kelly was able to commit the horrific act that left 26 dead and 20 injured inside the church on Nov. 5, as NBC News reported.
Joe Holcombe, 86, told the outlet that he is hoping he and his wife can prevent such an event from happening again. Their son, Bryan Holcombe, and eight other family members, including an unborn great-grandchild, were killed during the massacre.
The full list of the Holcombe family victims include: Crystal Holcombe, 36, her unborn baby, three of her kids, Greg, 13, Emily 11, and Megan, 9, Crystal’s in-laws, Bryan, 60, and Karla Holcombe, 58, and her brother-in-law Marc Colcombe, 36 and his 18-month-old daughter, Noah. Joe Holcombe said after his filing that he’s trusting in God as he moves forward.
“Something like this doesn’t bother us, because we know where the family that were killed are,” he said. “It’s not going to be long till the rest of us will be there, and we’ll be there for a long, long time. We just take things as they happen, and we know that God’s in control and we’re not.”
The claim that the Holcombes filed isn’t a lawsuit, though it is the first step required for anyone seeking to sue the U.S. government, according to Reuters.
“Bryan … was shot in the back while walking to the church pulpit to lead the congregation in worship. He died on the floor of the church,” the filing reads. “Joe Holcombe has suffered grievous mental anguish from the death of his son and the loss of his society, companionship and affection.”
The charge claims that failures by the Defense Department and Air Force directly led to the shooting. The Air Force has already admitted that a 2012 domestic violence conviction for Kelley wasn’t added into a database that would have prevented him from buying a gun, as NBC News noted.
The Air Force had no comment on the filing, though the government has six months to respond to the claim.
As Faithwire previously reported, Joe and Claryce Holcombe have remained firm and resolute in their Christian faith, despite losing so many family members in such a horrific manner.
“We’re strong,” Joe Holcombe told Faithwire the day after the shooting, before speaking of a future time when he believes he and his wife will see their family members again in heaven. “We’ll be with Bryan and his wife and the whole family one of these days — and we look forward to that.”
When Holcombe was asked what he would say to Kelley, he said that he didn’t know, though he offered up what can only be summarized as a stunning amount of forgiveness.
“I don’t hold any resentment to him. I wish he hadn’t of done it, but all I can say is that he is going to be rewarded for what he did — and he’s not going to like that reward,” he said. “I don’t hate him by any means; I just feel sorry for him.”