Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story referenced the Wednesday lawsuit as being consolidated from previous lawsuits. The lawsuit is entirely new and separate from a different lawsuit against Academy Sports + Outdoors.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Survivors and family members of victims of a deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, two years ago are filing a joint lawsuit against Academy Sports + Outdoors, claiming it is illegally selling high-capacity assault weapons. Each of the 56 people is asking for more than $1 million.
On Nov. 5, 2017, Devin Kelley fired at worshippers at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, killing 26 of them and an unborn baby and hurting 20 other people.
“The shooter used a gun illegally obtained from Academy,” according to a release about the consolidated lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday.
The sports company requested victims’ earlier lawsuits be dismissed, but on Feb. 4 a judge denied that request. Now, a jury will decide “whether Academy Sports + Outdoors will be forced to follow existing gun laws and end the practice of selling high capacity assault rifles to visitors from states that ban them, as well as whether Academy is responsible for damages.”
The lawsuit claims the Katy, Texas-based chain broke federal law when it sold the Sutherland Springs shooter a Ruger AR-556 with a high capacity magazine that is illegal in his state of residence. At the time, the shooter listed his address on a Firearms Transaction Record as being in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Colorado, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Virginia, and Washington all have laws that don’t let people own high capacity assault-style weapons. The lawsuit claimed Academy Sports + Outdoors has also sold similar weapons to people in those states.
In December 2017, the family of three victims filed a lawsuit against Academy Sports + Outdoors seeking $25 million in damages. That lawsuit is separate from the one filed Wednesday. Family members of victims have also sued the Air Force, claiming the military branch failed to report the shooter’s criminal history to an FBI database used in gun buyer background checks.