Uvalde shooting survivors file first federal lawsuit against school district
Written by Patrick Linehan ABC News on September 30, 2022
(DEL RIO, Texas) — Three children who survived the Robb Elementary School shooting and their parents filed the first federal lawsuit since the May 24 massacre in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Del Rio, Texas, names the Uvalde school district, police force and gun distributors.
It also names several public officials including Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief who was fired in August, and Mandy Gutierrez, the former principal of Robb Elementary who has taken on a new role in the school district administration.
The lawsuit includes Oasis Outback, the gun shop where the shooter picked up his weapons days before the attack, and Daniel Defense, the gun manufacturer that sold him the gun online. The complaint alleges that the gun-maker markets to young males like the suspected shooter.
The Uvalde school district declined to comment on the litigation. The city of Uvalde, Arredondo, Gutierrez, Oasis Outback and Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to comment.
Gutierrez has been criticized for not using the school’s intercom system during the shooting. In a letter to a Texas House investigative committee, Gutierrez rejected that she had disregarded school safety, arguing she followed protocol by not announcing a lockdown alert over the intercom system, according to the Texas Tribune.
Arredondo has said he took all “reasonable actions” the day of the shooting and has threatened legal action against the school board, calling his termination an “illegal and unconstitutional public lynching” in a statement last month from his attorney.
“It’s clear that this unspeakable trauma will be with them for a long time, perhaps for the rest of their lives,” says Monique Alarcon, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “This case is about ensuring that they have access to the care and resources they need.”
Corina Camacho, Tanisha Rodriguez, Selena Sanchez, and Omar Carabajal and their children filed the complaint. Camacho’s son was in the room where the shooter entered and was shot in the leg, the lawsuit says. Both of his teachers and many of his classmates were killed.
Rodriguez’s daughter was on the playground when the shooting started and had to shelter, the lawsuit says. Sanchez and Carabajal’s son was walking to the nurse’s office when he saw the gunman and hid in a nearby classroom, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint seeks damages for negligence and emotional distress caused by the shooting but does not name a specific amount. In August the school district and city of Uvalde were served a notice of a separate lawsuit, seeking $27 billion. That lawsuit has not been filed, but around 25 families have joined that proposed class action, according to Charles Bonner, the lead attorney in that case.
The school district told ABC News earlier Thursday it has hired JPPI Investigations, a private investigative firm, to conduct an independent review of UCISD police actions on May 24.
“At this time, we do not have an expected completion date for the reviews,” a district spokesperson said in an emailed statement to ABC News.
Survivors of a July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, filed a similar lawsuit Wednesday against the manufacturer of the gun allegedly used in the shooting, as well as a local gun retailer, the suspect and his father.
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