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Families of 3 Uvalde shooting survivors sue school district, police, gunmakers, others

The lawsuit appears to be the first filed over the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

People visit a memorial outside of Robb Elementary
People visit a memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

By Lana Ferguson

The families of three students who survived the May massacre at a Uvalde elementary school filed a federal lawsuit alleging a combination of negligence, intentional choices and a “culture of noncompliance with safety protocols” led to the shooting.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and was filed Wednesday in the Western District of Texas, lists 11 defendants, including the city of Uvalde; the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District; since-fired Uvalde CISD police Chief Pete Arredondoschool principal Mandy Gutierrez; and gun companies Daniel Defense, Firequest International and Oasis Outback. The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lawsuit appears to be the first filed over the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School.

“The shooter was left with free range to shoot, terrorize, and kill children and teachers for over an hour,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are the families of three minor children identified in the lawsuit only by their initials. One of the students, then a fourth-grader, was shot in his right leg and witnessed other students being shot — including his best friend, who was killed.

Another of the students, also a fourth-grader at the time, was rushed into the building after the gunman fired near where she was on the playground, the lawsuit says. The third student, a second-grader, was walking to the nurse’s office from the gym and saw the gunman firing toward the school.

The lawsuit alleges the school district was not prepared for a shooting and that police were indifferent to their roles as “protectors of students and residents of Uvalde” by not following active-shooter protocol.

“The facts … expose a culture of noncompliance with safety protocols, state-mandated school shooter training, disregard for school alerts, and deliberate indifference to the threat of criminal trespassers and school shooters leaving the children and teachers vulnerable to attack,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit details the hour-plus timeline from when the gunman was spotted approaching the school by a gym teacher to when the he was killed by U.S. Border Patrol officers. It also criticizes the actions of law-enforcement officers at the scene and claims Uvalde CISD had “history of failing to protect students against trespassers” because of security issues causing previous lockdowns.

The lawsuit also says the gun companies defendants “violated federal law by negligently entrusting their deadly weapons” to the shooter when they should have known he was likely to endanger others.

Overall, the lawsuit alleges the defendants’ actions were “intentional and done with reckless disregard for Plaintiffs’ health, well-being, safety, and lives.”

The plaintiffs asked for a jury trial and are seeking past and future economic damages, general damages, and punitive and exemplary damages.

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