Victims of the Sutherland Springs mass shooting say they’ve reached a “tentative agreement” with the department of justice (DOJ) to settle a case against the government for $144.5 million (£115.6M).
Following approval by Attorney General Merrick Garland, the agreement would end a legal battle with the federal government over its responsibility for the attack.
In 2017, a gunman killed 26 people including eight children at the First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas. Police recovered a rifle and two handguns, all three weapons were purchased by the shooter.
In July 2021, a district court ruled that the government was partly responsible for the massacre after shooter Devin Kelley’s criminal history was not submitted into the national database that would have prevented him from buying a gun.
A federal judge ruled in February 2022 that the government should pay $230 million to victims in damages. The DOJ later appealed this decision.
Lead trial attorney for the victims, Jamal Alsaffar told NBC News the country “owed a debt of gratitude” to the Sutherland Springs families for pursuing their lawsuit, despite the trauma it unearthed for them.
"These families fought for justice, endured and won two trials against the federal government and made this country safer as a result. But the settlement is not final," Alsaffar said.
"Attorney General Garland’s office still must approve it, and we urge his Justice Department to act quickly to bring some closure to these families. It’s the least they deserve."