The last conversation Sandra Torres had with her 10-year-old daughter was about her nervous excitement about whether she would make the all-star softball team. Hours later, Eliahna Torres was one of 19 children and two teachers slaughtered in a shooting at their Uvalde, Texas elementary school.
With few answers about police waiting 77 minutes in a school hallway on May 24 instead of confronting the gunman, Sandra Torres filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the police, the school district and the maker of the gun the gunman used.
“My baby never left school,” she said. “There is no accountability or transparency. Nothing is being done about it.”
The lawsuit accuses the city, school district and several police departments of a “complete failure” to follow active shooter protocols and violations of the victims’ constitutional rights by “barricading” them in two classrooms with the killer for more than an hour. The city, school district and police did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Torres is aided by the legal arm of the group Everytown for Gun Safety. Her suit also names the manufacturer of the AR-style semi-automatic rifle that Salvador Ramos used to fire more than 100 rounds during the shooting.
On behalf of the family of Eliahna Torres, who was murdered at Robb Elementary, the Everytown litigation team filed a lawsuit against Daniel Defense, Oasis Outback, the city and county, the school district, and responding law enforcement agents. co/DuWgG9kXvi
— Any City (@Every City) November 28, 2022
The claim is part of a new and growing legal front in the nationwide firearms lawsuit. While gunmakers in the United States are typically immune from lawsuits under federal law for crimes committed with their products, families of victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut have reached a $73 million settlement with Remington, the maker of the weapon used in that crime.
The settlement came after the victims successfully argued that suing for marketing was an exception to the federal immunity measure under state law.
The new Uvalde lawsuit alleges that Daniel Defense marketing tactics violated the Federal Trade Commission Act by negligently using militaristic imagery, product placement in combat video games and social media to target “vulnerable and violent young men,” according to Eric Tirschwell, executive director at Everytown Wet.
“It was no accident that he went from never firing a gun to handling a Daniel Defense AR-15,” Tirschwell said, citing the findings of a report written by a Texas House of Representatives committee of inquiry. “We intend to prove that Daniel Defense’s marketing was an important factor in the choices Ramos made.”
The company, based in Black Creek, Georgia, did not immediately return a message requesting comment, but at a congressional hearing in July, CEO Marty Daniels called the Uvalde shooting and others like it “purely bad” and “deeply disturbing.” “. Still, he separated the guns themselves from the violence, saying mass shootings in the US are local problems that need to be solved locally.
Everytown is also part of a similar lawsuit over a shooting of paraders in Highland Park, Illinois. If arguments based on federal law are successful, it could expose gun makers to costly civil lawsuits as the nation grapples with rising gun violence and a string of mass shootings.
“It would be an important step forward to hold arms manufacturers accountable if their marketing crosses a line,” Tirschwell said.
The case also credits the gun store where Ramos bought the gun used in the shooting, along with another AR-15 and ammunition, purchases totaling thousands of dollars.
The Texas House’s July report found that nearly 400 law enforcement officers rushed to the scene of the shooting, but “extremely poor decision-making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed. It criticized state and federal law enforcement and local authorities for not taking active shooting training and putting their own safety above that of the victims.
Another parent whose child was injured in the shooting and two parents whose children were on campus at the time filed the first lawsuit related to the Uvalde shooting in late September.
For Sandra Torres, the case is another way to seek answers to the police’s failed response.
“For 77 minutes they did nothing. Absolutely nothing,” she said. “She’ll never know what it’s like to get married, graduate, go to prom.”