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Uvalde shooting survivors file $27b class-action suit

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-03 08:11

A woman lays flowers on Tuesday in a memorial in Uvalde, Texas, at the town square for the victims of a school mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers. MARCO BELLO/REUTERS

Nearly 30 survivors of a mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, have filed a $27 billion class-action lawsuit, alleging law enforcement officials' miscommunication and inaction failed to prevent the gunman from killing 19 children and two teachers.

The plaintiffs include parents and teachers and other staff members who were at Robb Elementary School on May 24 when the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States happened. The students and teachers were gunned down in adjoining classrooms just a few days before school was to be let out for the summer. At least 17 others were wounded.

A total of 376 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies responded to the massacre. Officers waited 77 minutes after the shooter entered the adjoining classrooms before storming in and killing the gunman, Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Austin accuses law enforcement officers of failing "to follow active shooter protocols". It argues that their decision to treat the active shooter as a "barricaded subject" inside the two classrooms had violated the victims' constitutional rights.

The lawsuit names the city, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, the school district's police department, the Uvalde Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety along with several people who are members or former members of the agencies listed as defendants.

In July, a Texas House report found "systemic failures" among the 376 officers who responded to the massacre. Last month, investigators launched an inquiry to determine if a faster law enforcement intervention could have saved more victims.

In a separate lawsuit filed on Thursday afternoon, Uvalde city officials allege that Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell withheld critical information requested by an independent investigator into an ongoing internal affairs investigation of the police response to the shooting. The Texas Tribune reported that the lawsuit seeks all relevant records to the investigation.

Separately, on Tuesday, survivors and families of the victims filed another lawsuit seeking $6 billion in damages from Daniel Defense — the manufacturer of the shooter's weapon — and Uvalde gun store Oasis Outback.

The lawsuit alleges that Daniel Defense violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, arguing that the Georgia-based company's marketing on social media and video games "primes young buyers to purchase AR-15-style rifles as soon as they are legally able".

Earlier this year, gunmaker Remington settled a lawsuit for $73 million with the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, who also had targeted the company's marketing. On Dec 14, 2012, a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at the school before taking his own life. It was the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school in US history.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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