By Kelli Smith
The family of a child fatally shot in Uvalde is demanding answers from the manufacturer of the gun used to kill 21 people in Texas’ deadliest school shooting, arguing the company must provide information about its marketing techniques and previous communications with the gunman.
Attorney Josh Koskoff, who previously won a settlement for Sandy Hook families against a gunmaker, and attorneys Mikal Watts and Charla Aldous issued the demands in a letter Friday to Georgia-based Daniel Defense on behalf of the family of Amerie Jo Garza. Garza is one of the 19 children killed May 24 when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School.
“My purpose for being now is to honor Amerie Jo’s memory,” Alfred Garza III, Amerie Jo Garza’s father, said in a written statement. “She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child. I have to fight her fight.”
Daniel Defense, the maker of the AR-15 used by the gunman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company is one of the largest privately owned firearms manufacturers in the country. It had issued a statement after the Uvalde shooting saying it was “deeply saddened by the recent tragic events.”
The letter asks Daniel Defense to provide information on its marketing of AR-15-style rifles to teens and children, including its online purchasing system, its awareness of the use of those rifles in past mass shootings and its “incitement and encouragement of the assaultive use of these weapons,” according to a news release.
The letter also asks for the company’s prior communications with the gunman “on any platform.”
Koskoff, a Connecticut-based lawyer who previously won a settlement for nine Sandy Hook families against the maker of the AR-15 used in the 2012 school massacre, said in a written statement that Daniel Defense needs to back up its prayers with meaningful action.
“If they really are sincere in their desire to support these families, they will provide the information that Mr. Garza has requested without delay or excuse,” Koskoff said. “Either way, we will do a complete and thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned.”
Emilia Marin, an educator at Robb Elementary, also filed a petition Thursday in Texas seeking to depose Daniel Defense and gauge whether the company can be held liable for how it markets firearms, according to CNN. The filings were a sign of the legal action beginning to ramp up after the Uvalde mass shooting.
The rifle used in the Texas elementary school shooting is known as a DDM4 Rifle. It’s modeled after the M4 carbine, the U.S. military’s go-to rifle, according to a blog post by Daniel Defense.
The Daniel Defense rifle can be classified as an AR-15 type. A key difference between the Daniel Defense rifle and the M4 carbine is that the military version can switch to fully automatic or fire a three-round burst depending on the model.
AR-15-type rifles can be purchased for as little as $400, but the Daniel Defense rifle costs upward of around $2,000 or more. According to pictures of the shooter’s guns posted on Instagram, he appears to have purchased a battery-powered holographic sight that typically sells for around $725.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.