Three Uvalde parents Wednesday filed the one of the first lawsuits since the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, suing the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, the former school district police chief, the former principal of the school, law enforcement officials and an AR-15 gun manufacturer. The parents filed suit on behalf of their children who survived the shooting.
The lawsuit claims that, despite the district receiving a portion of $110 million in statewide funding in 2018 for school and firearm safety, "the Uvalde School District took the money but did little to prophylactically protect the students and teachers." It cites the failure to lock campus doors, issue a campus-wide alert, and use the intercom system as reasons the "shooter was free to shoot children and teachers for more than an hour and with school and local police just feet away."
"The School District and its leaders allowed staff to prop open doors for their convenience, in violation of its own safety protocols," said the lawsuit, Camacho et al. vs. Uvalde CISD, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The suit details various other allegations around events leading up to and during the shooting, including a door lock left unrepaired during spring 2022 and failure of the district to coordinate law enforcement and other first responders on the day of the attack.
These allegations come after an July report on the attack released by the Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee concluded that on the day of the shooting "the void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon."
Parents are now suing the district and other defendants under multiple violations, including the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. The suit claims the district and school chief violated this right when they allegedly prevented other responders from confronting the shooter, and as a result failed to protect the children in their care.
According to a timeline of the May 24 shooting that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers, law enforcement didn't breach the door where the shooter was standing until over 70 minutes after the attack began despite 376 officers being at the scene.
In the lawsuit filed Sept. 28, additional charges of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress are also included.
“These kids just came back to school, and we are already hearing that many of them are scared for their lives,” says Monique Alarcon, an attorney on the case who works for Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, a nationwide civil trial law firm representing the plaintiffs. “It’s clear that this unspeakable trauma will be with them for a long time, perhaps for the rest of their lives."
Stephanie Sherman, a lead attorney on the lawsuit who works for the same firm, said in a statement the families are looking for justice and accountability for the shooting.
“The horrors at Robb Elementary School were only possible because so many in positions of power were negligent, careless, and reckless,” Sherman said.
Attorneys also said they hope survivors of the shooting, who are seeking punitive damages of an undetermined amount, have access to care and resources needed in its wake.
A separate $27 billion class action lawsuit is expected to be filed by the end of October including similar allegations. The case is also to bring charges against the district and city officials under the Fourteenth Amendment, this time for allegedly depriving parents of their right to protect their children and make informed decisions about their health, safety and welfare, according to civil rights attorney Charles Bonner.
“Some of the children — our clients — have resorted to wetting the bed. These are 9-year-old children,” said Bonner, co-founder of Bonner & Bonner Law, in September. “Some are reliving this trauma over and over in their minds. They can’t sleep. They can’t leave their parents’ side.”