The mother of a 10-year-old who was killed in the Uvalde school shooting has filed a lawsuit against gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, which made and sold the AR-15 that the shooter used.
The federal lawsuit was filed Monday by Everytown Law on behalf of Sandra Torres, the mother of Eliahna Torres, who was fatally shot on May 24 at Robb Elementary along with 18 other children and two teachers. The lawsuit also includes the gun store that transferred the rifle to the shooter as well as police officers and agencies that were on site that day.
“Eliahna loved her family, and she knew how much we loved her,” Sandra Torres said in a news release. “I miss her every moment of every day. I’ve brought this lawsuit to seek accountability. No parent should ever go through what I have.”
The lawsuit alleges that Daniel Defense unfairly marketed the gun in violation of federal trade law and then negligently transferred it to the shooter via the Oasis Outback gun shop.
According to the lawsuit, the shooter was "young, isolated, troubled, and violent," and Daniel Defense directed marketing toward that demographic by using "militaristic imagery" to suggest that customers should use weapons to engage in combat missions. Daniel Defense placed its products in Call of Duty and used social media to suggest that customers reenact video games in real life, according to the lawsuit. Daniel Defense's social media also used memes and pop culture references to market its guns, with an aim of appealing to young people like the 18-year-old Uvalde shooter, the lawsuit alleges.
Daniel Defense did not immediately return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Oasis Outback, the gun store in Uvalde that transferred the gun to the shooter after he bought it online, is also responsible for the mass shooting. According to the lawsuit, one customer in Oasis Outback said they saw the shooter at the store and remarked that he looked like a school shooter. The owner also allegedly questioned the shooter on how he could afford the gun and ammunition he bought at the store. When reached by phone on Monday, Oasis Outback said it had no comment regarding the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also names several individual law enforcement officers, including Pete Arredondo, the former chief of the Uvalde school district police department who was fired in August. Arredondo was supposed to act as incident commander according to the district's active shooter plan, a role he has said he did not consider to be his as state and federal law enforcement arrived at the scene. He and other officers who responded have been criticized for their "void of leadership." The lawsuit alleges that Arredondo did not follow the active shooter policy to neutralize the shooter and instead instructed officers to barricade the children in the classroom with the shooter.
The lawsuit also alleges that police officers violated the constitutional rights of the Robb Elementary students and staff and that police officers were inadequately trained on how to respond to an active shooter.
More than 400 police officers from different agencies were on the scene that day, and police waited 77 minutes before confronting the shooter.
The school was also not prepared for an active shooter, according to the lawsuit. Staff did not fix doors and locks with urgency, and there was poor internet connection, which negatively impacted the use of alarm systems, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said they cannot comment on pending litigation.
"There are no words to adequately express our deepest condolences to all the families who lost a loved one on May 24," the district said in a statement. "As a district, we focus on supporting our students and their families as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times."
"Eliahna Torres was a vibrant 10-year-old girl," the lawsuit states. "She loved to laugh and to make others laugh. She was compassionate with a beautiful smile. She loved TikTok, cats, llamas, and hanging out with her friends. She hated sweating (despite the Uvalde heat), but she had fallen in love with playing softball and was a promising young infielder. She was a cherished daughter, granddaughter, sister, and friend. Her mother decorates her grave for each season. Her grandmother still calls her phone every day. She is loved. She was taken too soon."
In September, the victims of the shooting at a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, similarly sued gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson for its marketing practices that allegedly target young men seeking "more adrenaline."
Though the gun industry has been immune to most lawsuits since Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, in February, families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were awarded a $73 million settlement after they sued Remington Arms. That lawsuit also targeted the marketing practices of a gun manufacturer, exposing a potential workaround to the immunity law that has long prevented shooting victims and their families from going after the gun industry in court.
The city of Uvalde, which is also named in the lawsuit, declined to comment.