MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Five families of teenagers shot by a classmate at a high school are seeking up to $110 million in damages from the school district and father of the shooter.
Lawyers for the Marysville School District received the claim for damages in an email Friday, The Seattle Times reported (http://goo.gl/4uMwvL). The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, was filed by Tacoma law firm Connelly Law Offices.
Gia Soriano, Zoe Galasso and Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, all 14, and 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg were killed in Oct. 24 2014, after 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg invited them to sit with him at lunch at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Wounded in the gunfire was 15-year-old Nate Hatch.
Jaylen Fryberg killed himself with the gun after shooting the others.
Lincoln C. Beauregard, an attorney for the families, told the Times that when contacted by the families, he asked what they want out of the lawsuit. "They all looked at me and said 'accountability,'?" he said.
The core of the families' case is that a substitute teacher warned office staff at the school about a rumor of a potential shooting before it happened, Beauregard said. The families believe the school district was negligent for failing to prevent the shootings.
Police have said they determined the substitute teacher's statements were false and that the woman backtracked in a subsequent interview.
Beauregard said the families are seeking a range of $60 million to $110 million in damages to be split among them.
In a written statement, Marysville School District spokesman Craig Degginger said while their hearts and prayers got out to the families, they were disappointed to learn a claim has been filed. "We have not yet had the opportunity to thoroughly review the claim and thus cannot comment directly on it at this time," he said.
The families also fault Raymond Fryberg Jr. for not preventing his son, Jaylen, from obtaining his gun.
Raymond Fryberg Jr. was the subject of a restraining order, which meant he wasn't allowed to have firearms. Federal prosecutors say he failed to disclose his criminal history and restraining-order information when he obtained the gun.
In September, Fryberg Jr. was convicted of six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. One of the firearms, a .40-caliber Beretta pistol, was used by his son in the shootings.
Fryberg is slated to be sentenced Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each count.
"It's negligent to own a firearm and not make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of the wrong person," Beauregard said Friday.
Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com