A family of three of the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting has filed a lawsuit against the gun store that sold the shooter the weapon used in the attack – and it looks like they have legitimate grounds.
According to mySanAntonio.com, the Ward and Lookingbill family are seeking $25 million in damages after the Academy Sports & Outdoors in San Antonio, Texas, allegedly failed to follow the law by selling the gunman a Ruger model AR-566 rifle in 2016. That same rifle would be used a year later on November 5th in the massacre of 26 parishioners at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
Among those 26 was 30-year-old Joann Ward and her two daughters, 5-year-old Brooke Ward and 7-year-old Emily Garcia. Her 5-year-old stepson Ryland Ward was also in the church at the time of the shooting. While Ryland survived the attack, he is still in the hospital recovering from extensive injuries; the young boy was shot five times in the elbow, stomach and leg.
As mentioned, earlier, the family – the Lookingbills, Joann’s parents, and her husband, Chris Ward – argue that the gun store never should not have sold that AR-566 – or any firearm – to the gunman, but not because he was a convicted domestic abuser.
Academy Sports & Outdoors quickly confirmed after the massacre that they were the ones who sold the shooter the rifle, and that he passed the necessary background check.
“We also confirmed that both sales [the gunman also bought a firearm from them in 2017] were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). We are cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate further,” the store told Fox News back in November.
So how could they have broken the law by selling him the gun? Well, the shooter listed his Colorado Springs address on a firearm record form, and the gun was picked up in Texas. Even though Colorado and Texas have a reciprocity agreement, Texas prohibits the sale of firearms to non-residents. For this reason, the families claim the purchase should have been transferred to the shooter’s Colorado home.
“The Ruger should have never been placed in Kelley’s hands in Texas,” the lawsuit reads.
It’s doubtful that Academy Sports & Outdoors could’ve prevented the massacre by denying the shooter the weapon; he likely would’ve purchased it elsewhere, since we’ve already established he could pass a background check thanks to a (major) government oversight. Regardless, it looks the gun store could potentially be found liable on accounts of negligence and failure to follow the state’s gun sale laws.
We’ll be following this story closely and will cover any additional updates on the case.