Courthouse News Service:
Three students were shot to death a year ago at an Ohio high school because the killer's parents, guardians and uncle failed to keep the gun away from him, the dead students' families claim in court.
Daniel Parmertor, Russell King Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin were shot to death in the Chardon High School cafeteria on Feb. 27, 2012. Three other students were wounded.
T.J. Lane III, then 17, shot them with his uncle's .22 caliber pistol, according to the complaint. One day short of a year after the killing, Lane pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison.
The families of the three people he killed sued Lane, his natural parents, his grandparents - who are also his custodial guardians - and his uncle John Bruening, in Lake County Court of Common Pleas.
Lane was charged as an adult and "a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent despite evidence that he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies," according to CBS News.
The grieving families claim that Lane's parents, grandparents and uncle failed to prevent the shooting, which is described in detail in the complaint.
"On or about February 27, 2012, defendant Lane, entered the Chardon High School cafeteria with a firearm he had obtained from his uncle, defendant John Bruening," the complaint states.
"At that time, Lane shot Daniel Parmertor, Russell King Jr., and Demetrius Hewlin, all of whom were sitting in the cafeteria either eating breakfast or waiting for a bus to take them to a local vocational school. Defendant Lane shot three other students who survived the assault.
"Defendant Lane fired a total of ten (10) rounds of ammunition from defendant John Bruening's firearm at close range at the plaintiffs.
"Following the shooting, defendant Lane fled the building and was later apprehended by law enforcement authorities."
The families seek compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful death, negligent supervision, parental statutory liability, and loss of consortium.
This is what I have been advocating for all along.
It is not enough that the person who fired the gun is held responsible, it is that those who did not keep that instrument of death out of his hands are punished as well. And I would extend that to gun shop owners, trade show dealers, and ANY individual who sold that weapon without having the purchaser go through an extensive background check beforehand.
On an earlier thread somebody asked if I would be willing to see the victim of a burglary punished twice by also being brought up on charges that resulted from the gun violence perpetrated using a weapon stolen from their house.
My answer to that is, "You bet your ass!"
If the weapon was not registered, locked up in a safe with a combination lock, and with its ammunition stored in a separate location, then yes THAT person should be charged as an accomplice to the crime.
That may seem harsh, but we are talking about lives here, often young lives, and I guarantee we would see a dramatic drop in those if the actual purchaser of these weapons recognized the incredible responsibility they were taking on for themselves with each new gun they added to their arsenal.