Family of Texas Shooting Victim Sues Suspect’s Parents

GALVESTON, Texas (CN) – The parents of a student killed in last week’s Santa Fe High School shooting sued the accused gunman’s parents for $1 million Thursday, blaming them for not securing firearms used in the rampage that left 10 people dead.

Law enforcement officers respond to Santa Fe High School after an active shooter was reported on campus, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas. ( Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Christopher Jake Stone, 17, will be laid to rest Friday at 4 p.m. at a church in League City, 20 miles north of Santa Fe High School, where Dimitrios Pagourtzis is said to have burst into a first-period art class wearing a trench coat on May 18, killing eight students and two teachers and wounding 13 others with a sawed-off shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun.

Stone’s parents Rosie Yanas and Christopher Stone sued Antonios Pagourtzis and Rose Marie Kosmetatos on Thursday in Galveston County Court seeking more than $1 million in punitive and compensatory damages on claims of wrongful death, gross negligence and negligence.

“Had the murderer not had available to him the weapons for his carnage, his hidden black rage might well have continued to simmer within, but the life’s blood of his teachers and peers, including decedent Christopher Jake Stone, would not have been so horribly, callously and needlessly spilled,” the complaint states.

Two days after the shooting, Antonios Pagourtzis said during an interview with a Greek TV network that he was the registered owner of the firearms, and that Dimitrios had taken them from his closet, the Associated Press reported.

“My son, to me, is not a criminal, he’s a victim. The kid didn’t own guns. I owned guns,” he said.

Stone’s friends and family told local media he had an infectious smile and loved playing football for the high school’s junior varsity team. He had dreams of becoming a chemical plant operator.

“Chris was loved by many for his sweet, loving, and down to earth personality. Chris was known for being the life of the party, singing, laughing, and always down for a dance battle,” his obituary in the Galveston Daily News states.

The attorney for Stone’s parents, Clint McGuire with the Houston firm Martinez & McGuire, wrote in the lawsuit that metaphorically speaking, the accused shooter’s parents also pulled the triggers on the murder weapons.

“The murderer pulled the pistol’s and sawed-off shotgun’s triggers, but also upon them, pressed just as firmly, were the fingers of the parents, who utterly failed to teach their son any respect for life whatsoever and who negligently and grossly negligently failed to secure their weapons,” the lawsuit states.

McGuire said in a phone interview Friday that he expects other victims’ parents will come forward looking for representation for their own wrongful death lawsuits.

“I suspect that that will probably happen, but I don’t want to speak out of turn yet, or disclose anything prematurely,” he said.

McGuire said he is going to Stone’s funeral on Friday, but declined to discuss the case out of respect for Stone’s parents.

“Out of respect for them, I indicated to them that yesterday and today I was not going to be making any comments so it does not detract from what they’re going through burying their child. So I would just defer to the pleading at the current time,” he said.

Pagourtzis’ parents couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Police officers working security at the 1,400-student campus responded last Friday to the sound of gunfire within four minutes, trading shots with Pagourtzis as some of his classmates hid from him in closets, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said.

Trochesett said Pagourtzis surrendered 30 minutes after 911 dispatchers got the first call from the high school, as 200 police arrived on the scene.

He is being held in Galveston County Jail without bond on capital murder and aggravated assault charges.

His attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said he is investigating reports that Pagourtzis had been bullied by Santa Fe High School football coaches.

Santa Fe High School students met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday and urged him to put more armed security guards at schools, describing how they hid from the shooter and saw classmates murdered.

Thursday’s closed-door meeting was the last of three Abbott held at the state capitol in Austin this week to discuss ways to reduce school violence. Abbott, who also met with politicians, mental health counselors and law enforcement officials, is also taking suggestions from the public.

Abbott has resisted calls to convene a special legislative session this summer for state lawmakers to work on legislation to combat school shootings. The Legislature’s next regular session begins in January 2019.

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