Families of Sandy Hook shooting victims sue town, school board, and gun manufacturer

The families of two of the 20 children killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are suing the town where the 2012 massacre occurred, as well as its board of education, alleging security measures at the school “weren’t adequate.”

The wrongful-death lawsuit served on the town last week is being filed by the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, two of the children killed when gunman Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and shot dead 20 first-graders and six teachers on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza then shot himself to death.

The families are seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed in the state Superior Court in Danbury in upcoming weeks.

Among the allegations include Sandy Hook’s “negligent” security policies and procedures that the teachers were unable to follow on the day of the shootings. Classroom doors could only be locked from the outside with keys, leaving educators vulnerable to intruders. The front doors of the elementary school also didn’t have bulletproof security glass to protect against gunshots, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges a teacher in one of the two classrooms where students were killed was a substitute, who didn’t have a key or receive proper training on the school’s security protocols.

“We are hopeful that the town of Newtown’s elected and hired representatives will work with these families, who have already suffered, and continue to suffer unimaginable loss, to help resolve this matter in the most efficient and constructive way possible,” said Donald Papcsy, a lawyer for Lewis’ and Pozner’s parents.

“As residents of the town, we all either have, or are going to have, students in our Sandy Hook schools, and we promote the idea of learning from the past and protecting our children in the future.”

Newtown Atty. David Grogins said the lawsuit was served on Friday, Jan. 9, and declined further comment. School board members also did not respond.

Last month, the families of nine of the victims—including a teacher who was injured but survived the attack—filed a lawsuit in state court against the manufacturers of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that Lanza used in the massacre, saying the gun should not have been sold to civilians because of its overwhelming military firepower, and was designed as a “fearsome combat weapon” that a civilian would not know how to use.

“The AR-15 was specifically engineered for the US military to meet the needs of changing warfare,” said Josh Koskoff of Koskoff, Koskoff & Beider law firm, in a press release. “The weapon was not designed for home defense or hunting. This weapon was designed to efficiently kill other human beings in combat.”

The suit also names the gun’s distributor, Camfour, and Riverview Gun Sales—the store where Nancy Lanza, Adam’s mother, purchased the weapon in 2010 that her son would later use in the massacre.

The killings prompted a national conversation on gun control policies, and even pushed some lawmakers to take action. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy headed one of the strictest gun laws in the US, banning more than 100 types of military-style rifles and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 bullets.

Reports by state police and the state child advocate said Lanza’s parents, educators and others missed clear signs of how deeply troubled the 20-year-old was, and did not take steps towards more appropriate treatment for his mental health problems.

Lanza’s obsessions with firearms, death and mass shootings have been documented. Investigators have previously concluded that his motive for the shootings may never be known.

The Sandy Hook massacre was one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

(With reports from Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek) 

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