The lawsuit claims that wide-ranging negligence allowed the shooter to obtain firearms, enter the school, and massacre students unchallenged.
The families of three children who survived the Uvalde school shooting in May have filed a federal lawsuit against their local education district, law enforcement officials, and firearms manufacturers, alleging that their respective failures and negligence and facilitated the killings.
According to The Texas Tribune, the lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Texas’s Western District Court.
One of the children, adds the Tribune, was wounded in the shooting—and was best friends with another student, who was murdered by shooter Salvador Rolando Ramos.
“We are after accountability and damages, and because my plaintiffs are young, they will have to deal with the trauma of what they went through,” said attorney Stephanie Sherman, who is representing the families “It’s just a perfect soup of lack of care, and I can’t help but think this poor community was not protected in any way.”
The Tribune reports that, in total, the lawsuit names 10 defendants: the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District; former Uvalde police Chief Pete Arredondo; the City of Uvalde; then-acting Uvalde police chief, Mariano Pargas; Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez, who the lawsuit claims failed to notify teachers of the gunman’s presence; Daniel Defense, LLC, a firearms manufacturer; Firequest International, Inc, which designed an accessory trigger used by the shooter; Oasis Outback, LLC, where Ramos purchased his weapons; Motorola Solutions, Inc, which designed and sold the allegedly defective radio communications equipment used by first responders; and Schneider Electric USA Inc., which sold or installed the doors at the school.
In their complaint, the Uvalde families say that each defendant facilitated the shooting, whether by producing the defective technology that hindered first responders or by marketing dangerous products to young, potential offenders like Ramos.
The lawsuit also accuses Georgia-based Daniel Defense of using its heavy social media presence to market semi-automatic weapons, using advertisements of “men clad in combat gear on battlefields” to appeal to civilians with no actual military training or experience.
The families’ attorneys observe that Daniel Defenses appears to have sold weapons to at least four other mass shooters, but seemingly remains “ignorant of the human harms and losses resulting from its reckless marketing practices.”
The shooter, says The Texas Tribune, purchased a variety of firearms shortly after turning 18 years old, including an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle from Oasis Outback in Uvalde.
The lawsuit claims that Oasis “knew, or should have known, the gunman was suspicious and dangerous.”
The owner of the store, attorneys wrote, had spoken with Ramos, asking him how he could afford $3,000 worth of guns and ammunition.
Additionally, witnesses who were in the store at the same time said that Ramos appeared “very nervous looking.”
But when the shooter’s background check came back without any adverse results, Oasis approved the sale.
“The store owner and his staff did not act on their suspicions and block the purchases or notify law enforcement,” the lawsuit states. “The shooter was able to assemble a lethal military-grade assault weapon with a 30-round capacity magazine capable of pulverizing many people within minutes with no oversight, licensure, experience, or training.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Uvalde Police Department failed to follow its own active shooter protocol, allowing Ramos to stay inside Robb Elementary School and continue killing children—even after law enforcement had assembled outside the premises, and received repeated 9-1-1 calls from students begging for assistance.
“While Uvalde PD did make an early attempt to breach the classroom, they retreated and never tried again. The scene remained ‘active’ and active shooter protocol required Uvalde PD to pursue the primary goal of stopping the killing and gunman no matter how many times it takes,” the lawsuit said.
The Uvalde families are seeking punitive damages and a jury trial, among other legal relief.