US Vice President Mike Pence has said that the Trump administration was working to “ensure this never happens again” as he visited a Texas church were 26 people were killed in a mass shooting at the weekend.
Gunman Devin Kelley had committed a crime by even buying the assault rifle that he used to gun down his victims, including eight children, Pence said outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
“He lied on his application. He had a history of mental illness, and there were bureaucratic failures,” Pence said. “We will find out why this information was not properly reported in 2012 and we are working with leaders in Congress to ensure this never happens again.”
President Donald Trump, however, has already ruled out any changes to firearms legislation, arguing on Tuesday that if the gunman had not been stopped by other people who also were armed, things could have been worse.
Pence, accompanied by his wife, Karen, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, visited the church and a US military hospital in nearby San Antonio, where victims are being treated.
He also addressed a prayer vigil at a local high school.
“We mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve,” the vice president told the hundreds of people gathered at the vigil.
He also praised two men who had chased down the alleged gunman.
The attack unfolded on Sunday during a service, with a video camera reportedly capturing footage of Kelley shooting his victims in the head.
Kelley was shot and injured by a bystander as he left the church.
The bystander then gave chase with another man, but Kelley was found dead in his car from what police believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Further details about Kelley’s past emerged on Tuesday, including that he escaped from a mental health facility in 2012.
An incident report on the escape described Kelley as a danger to himself and others.
The report also said Kelley had tried to carry out death threats on his military superiors while serving in the Air Force at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2014.
He was also convicted of assaulting his first wife and step-son in 2012, which should have prohibited him, under federal law, from owning firearms.
Investigators looking into the shooting believe there is evidence on Kelley’s mobile phone, but they can’t access it because it is encrypted.
The mobile phone is being examined at a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) laboratory outside Washington, where technology experts are working to get past the encryption, officials said on Tuesday.
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