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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Families of four Uvalde shooting victims sue gunman’s estate

All four of the 9- and 10-year-old students survived but suffered severe gunshot wounds and emotional trauma.

(CN) — The families of four Robb Elementary School students injured in the Uvalde massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers last month sued the gunman’s estate this week, though their attorney says other parties may be added to the lawsuit.

It has been just over two weeks since 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the small elementary school in rural Uvalde, Texas, through an unlocked door where he unleashed hundreds of bullets from his semi-automatic assault style weapons into two classrooms. All four of the students, 9- and 10-year-olds represented in their lawsuit by San Antonio-based attorney Thomas J. Henry, suffered gunshot wounds to parts of their body including the leg, shoulder, face and back. The complaint was filed Monday and made available Wednesday.

“This initial lawsuit will allow us to discover evidence and possibly add other parties to the lawsuit, if necessary,” Henry said in a statement. “The discovery process will focus on the school system, law enforcement, social media, and gun and ammunition manufacturers.”

According to the lawsuit spearheaded by lead plaintiff Christopher Salinas on behalf of his minor child, while the four children have all undergone extensive medical care, with some requiring multiple surgeries, they have also suffered “unimaginable emotional trauma.”

“They witnessed their friends and teachers being shot and dying in front of them,” the 13-page lawsuit states. “They were locked into the room with Ramos as he shot their friends and were forced to stay there for over 45 minutes hurt and frightened before police finally entered the room and shot and killed Ramos.”

The lawsuit, filed June 6 in Uvalde County District Court, seeks over $100 million for claims of assault and battery, malice and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It targets the estate of the gunman, which has not yet been established, but will most likely be represented by his mother, Adriana Martinez.

Ramos’ acts, the families claim, “were premediated, intentional and tragic.”

Henry said his law firm is exploring “all available legal actions against all responsible parties,” including possible constitutional rights violations, gun law violations, and violations of laws, policies, and procedures pertaining to school safety.

“We want to obtain justice for the families that have been devastated by this shooting and ensure we have swift changes that protect our children while they are at school,” he said.

Ramos’ reign of terror lasted for over an hour because of a delayed law enforcement response that has since drawn intense backlash from the local community for their failure to intervene sooner. Texas Department of Public Safety Colonel Steven McCraw said in a news conference on May 27 that the delay was due to the on-site commander’s determination that the situation was that of a barricaded individual, rather than an active shooter.

“It was the wrong decision. Period,” McCraw admitted.

The lawsuit filed Monday, and another legal filing seeking testimony and evidence from the manufacturer of the assault-style rifle used in the shooting, represent the first civil cases filed in the wake of the deadly school massacre, although more are likely coming.

Emilia “Amy” Marin, a teacher at Robb Elementary who saw the gunman’s vehicle crash and made one of the first calls to 911, filed a petition Thursday to depose Daniel Defense, according to court records. While the June 2 petition does not accuse the Georgia-based manufacturer of wrongdoing, it seeks facts surrounding the weapons used in the shooting to investigate any basis for a potential claim.

Early accounts from officials mistakenly reported that a teacher had propped open the door used by the gunman to enter the building. Marin’s attorney, Don Flanary of San Antonio, disputed that account and officials later retracted their initial statements after confirming that the teacher had closed the door, but it failed to lock.

Flanery told ABC News that his client has been traumatized by the insinuation that she was responsible for leaving the door ajar. A GoFundMe page set up for Marin has raised just $85 in the last five days.

The two civil filings come as the city of Uvalde faces the potential of being hit with litigation over the delayed response to the May 24 killing spree, although no notices have been filed yet.

A tactical team of U.S. Border Patrol agents eventually breached one of the two connected classrooms and killed Ramos after more than an hour of officers being withheld from storming the classrooms where the gunman killed his victims and injured many others.

In February, Henry obtained a $230 million verdict against the the federal government on behalf of several victims for its role in the 2017 mass shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church that left 26 people dead, but the government this week filed an appeal to overturn the verdict.

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Categories / Criminal, Education, Personal Injury, Regional

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