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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Gun-Seller Blamed for Murderous Rampage

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A pawn shop sold a handgun to a schizophrenic man who used it two weeks later to shoot to death a Peruvian exchange student, the girl's family says.

Erik Ayala, 24, killed 17-year-old Martha Paz de Noboa Delgado and another person outside The Zone nightclub, wounded seven - mostly exchange students - then shot himself in the head in January 2009.

Ayala bought the 9 mm pistol on Jan. 9, 2009, and went on his shooting rampage on Jan. 24, according to the complaint in Multnomah County Court.

Noboa's family says 99 Pawn & Guns, which sold Ayala the gun, should have known that he had a history of mental illness and was a danger to himself and others.

"Erik Ayala attempted suicide in December 2000. As a result, he was hospitalized and later transferred to an inpatient mental health facility. There, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, given medication and remained for about a month of treatment. By early 2001, he returned to McNary High School, where the Mid-Valley Student Threat Assessment Team monitored him.

"Former co-workers of Erik Ayala indicate that he exhibited obvious signs of mental illness and depression," according to the complaint.

Noboa's family also sued the teen nightclub The Zone, which is in a high-crime area downtown, and its property owners and managers.

"In the weeks of January 4, 2009, and January 11, 2009, the two weeks preceding the incident at issue, there were thirty-one assaults, seven robberies and two sex crimes in the neighborhoods bordering the Zone nightclub," the complaint states.

Also sued is Rotary International, which sponsored the exchange student program, and which dropped off Noboa at the nightclub where she was shot.

Noboa's estate's representatives, Farley Piazza and Associates, seek $1.8 million in damages for negligence. They are represented by J. Randolph Pickett with Pickett Dummigan.

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