This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Robb Elementary School staff member is poised to file a lawsuit against gun manufacturer Daniel Defense after a mass shooting at her school left 19 fourth graders and two teachers dead.
Emelia Marin filed a pre-suit deposition against the company, which makes the AR-15-style rifle Salvador Ramos used to murder 21 people before being shot and killed by law enforcement. Texas allows for a broad range of information to be requested prior to officially filing suit under Rule 202.
Marin’s attorney, Don Flanary, told NBC news that Marin was outside bringing food into the elementary school for a end-of-year party when she saw the suspect crash his grandmother’s truck nearby to the school. She had propped the door open with a rock, he said.
“[Someone] yelled, ‘He’s got a gun,” Marin told KXAN prior to filing the deposition. At that point she did not want to be named. “I ran back into my building. I still had the rock in the door. So, I opened the door, kicked the rock, and then locked [the door].”
Unlike what was first reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety, video confirmed Marin ran back into the building, closing the door behind her, when she saw the gunman approaching. It’s the door the gunman used to get into the school and why it did not lock, as it is designed to do, is still being investigated.
“She is not well psychologically. She is a wreck,” Flanary told NBC News. “She’s been to her doctor and she’s continuing to receive treatment. It’s going to be a long road ahead, as it is for so many other people.”
According to documents, Marin wants information from Daniel Defense, a Georgia company, about their website, marketing and lobbying efforts, among other data sets and communications from within the company. She also requested information about what changes were made after the Las Vegas mass shooting, another instance where Daniel Defense-made rifles were used.
The gun manufacturer has not responded to request for comment from national news outlets.
“We’re trying to investigate, did they market to this person? Did they do something that caused him to want to buy the gun, when he just shouldn’t have? And that’s what we’re really concerned about,” Flanary told NBC.
While gun manufacturers and dealers are immune from civil liability if a weapon is used illegally under the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut won a landmark $73 million settlement against Remington, another gun manufacturer, in February of this year.
That lawsuit took issue with how the company marketed their AR-15-style rifle, something Marin appears to be looking into as well. It appears to be the first legal action taken after the Uvalde shooting.
More lawsuits likely coming
While not pointed at gun manufacturers, and also in February of this year, the Department of Justice was ordered to pay more than $230 million to victims and families of the Sutherland Springs church shooting where 26 people were killed and 22 others injured.
A federal judge determined the government was 60% liable for the mass shooting since the gunman had threatened mass violence while in the Air Force. The judge’s ruling aligned with the victims and families who believe the deadly shooting could have been prevented if the military branch had properly reported it.
“Based on thousands of pages of evidence and hundreds and hundreds of hours of testimony, [the judge] found conclusively that the background check system not only works, but had it been implemented properly in the Sutherland Springs case, it would have prevented the Sutherland Springs church shooting,” Jamal Alsaffar, the lead attorney for the Sutherland Springs church shooting case, said when interviewing with KXAN about the parallels between that shooting and the one in Uvalde.
“I wish no one would be exposed to see what we saw in the Sutherland Springs case, and that is the pictures of the bodies. We had a video as well, which is horrifying, it’s induces nightmares in everyone who’s seen it,” Alsaffar said.