WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — Parents of a teenager injured in a shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan are suing the store that sold the handgun used to kill four students and injure six others.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Detroit on behalf of Matthew and Mary Mueller accuses Acme Shooting Goods LLC of negligently or unlawfully supplying the gun through a straw sale.
Authorities said James Crumbley bought the 9mm semi-automatic handgun used in the Nov. 30 shooting as an early Christmas present for his son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time.
The lawsuit states that Ethan accompanied his father to Acme Shooting Goods several days before the shooting and “engaged in conduct or made one or more statements in the store which further indicated that the Acme gun was intended for” Ethan.
Acme Shooting Goods was obligated to train, supervise and monitor employees to identify and prevent so-called “straw buying,” according to the lawsuit.
A straw purchase is when a person buys a firearm to sell or give to someone who does not have the right to it.
An employee of Lapeer’s armory declined to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday.
The Muellers’ son was shot in the hand and face. He was one of six students and a teacher injured in the shooting at the school, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, now 16, has been charged as an adult with murder and terrorism and will stand trial in January. James Crumbley and his wife, Jennifer, are accused of giving their son access to the gun and are awaiting trial for manslaughter.
“Arms dealers, when engaging in the sale of firearms, assume a duty to comply with all standards of due diligence and all relevant state and/or federal firearms laws in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, minors and dangerous parties likely to misuse guns,” the Muellers’ lawsuit states.
A Connecticut gun store has been named in a lawsuit against gunsmith Remington following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 26 people, mostly children. Nancy Lanza purchased the assault rifle used by her son, Adam Lanza, in the shooting.
The store was later removed from the lawsuit when a judge dismissed the lawsuit against Remington in 2016. The judge cited a federal law that protects gun manufacturers from liability in most cases. The Connecticut Supreme Court later reinstated the lawsuit against Remington over whether it should be held liable for how it marketed the Bushmaster rifle. In February, Remington and the Sandy Hook families agreed to a $73 million settlement of the case.
Remington, one of the nation’s oldest firearms makers founded in 1816, filed for bankruptcy for a second time in 2020 and its assets were later sold to multiple companies. The manufacturer has been dogged by lawsuits and retail restrictions following the school shooting.
The Muellers’ lawsuit does not include a dollar amount for damages. It also names the Oxford Community School District, its former superintendent and other officials.
Other multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed after the shooting said the violence was preventable.
On the morning of the shooting, school officials met Ethan Crumbley and his parents at school after a teacher found a drawing of a gun, a bullet and a person who appeared to be having been shot, as well as messages stating: “My life is useless. and “The world is dead”.
The Crumbleys refused to take their son home, and Ethan was allowed to stay in school. The weapon was in his backpack, which was not searched.
“We are bringing this lawsuit so that the failures both in selling this gun and in our school that allowed this to happen will never happen again,” Matthew and Mary Mueller said in a statement. “No family or community needs to go through this pain and no child should have to live with it for the rest of their lives.”