AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday that the gunman in Saturday’s mass shooting in Midland and Odessa had previously failed a gun purchase background check and did not go through a background check to buy the gun used in Saturday’s incident.
Abbott’s tweet did not say why the 36-year-old Odessa man didn’t pass the background check or how he obtained the rifle he used to kill seven people and injure 22 others — including a state trooper and two police officers. The gunman died after a shootout with police outside a Midland movie theater.
Abbott also cited the shooter’s criminal history.
“We must keep guns out of criminals’ hands,” he said.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that the gunman was arrested for evading arrest and criminal trespass in McLennan County in 2001, when he was 18, and received deferred adjudication — a form of probation — after pleading guilty to both misdemeanor charges. In Texas, only convictions for felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors block people from legally buying a gun.
Abbott could not be immediately reached for comment.
In Texas, licensed dealers must conduct background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if the buyer already has a Texas concealed carry license for a handgun. Private sales between individuals also do not require a criminal background check, which includes some gun sales at gun shows.
The Odessa Police Department and Midland office of the FBI could not be reached for comment.