AUSTIN (KXAN) — The family of a car dealership employee who was killed in a shootout at the dealership in early November has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The family of Jerry Lee is suing the dealership, TLC Automotive Group, another employee, Ron Kramer, who they say instigated the shootout as well as the two men charged with capital murder in Lee’s death, the lawsuit said.
The incident happened at the TLC’s location on Hunters Chase in northwest Austin on Friday, Nov. 6. Lee was killed after Modesto Hernandez, 30, and Alberto Torres, 31, tried to steal a car, and the dealership manager started shooting at Torres. Torres then shot Lee, according to the Austin Police Department.
Both Hernandez and Torres are charged with capital murder.
The suit said Lee was showing Hernandez and Torres a car’s features. They were inside the car when the two began assaulting Lee.
They didn’t pull out a gun at this time, the lawsuit claims. Lee was able to get out of the car and made a phone call for help.
As Hernandez and Torres were trying to leave, that’s when the lawsuit claims Kramer came out of the office and started firing shots at the pair.
“After escalating the situation and starting a gun fight, Kramer retreated to the safety of the TLC office while leaving unarmed Lee to defend himself against Hernandez and Torres,” the lawsuit claims.
Torres then chased down Lee and shot him, according to the suit.
The family claims Kramer “breeched his duty” by escalating the situation and abandoning Lee.
The lawsuit also said TLC failed to give Lee a safe place to work and “knew and approved of employees carrying weapons at work.” It claims the company didn’t train employees for de-escalating such situations.
The family is seeking monetary relief of more than $250,000.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for anyone to help with the family’s expenses. The account shows Kramer is the organizer of the GoFundMe, and the car dealership has donated $20,000 to it. As of Friday morning, it has almost reached its goal of $75,000 with $73,535.