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  • State-Created Danger and Negligence – Failure to Prevent Mass School Shooting: Mueller v. Oxford Community School District, Acme Shooting Goods, LLC, et al.

Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew Turner and Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller, along with co-counsel at Brady Legal, filed a complaint against Oxford Community School District and Acme Shooting Goods, LLC (Acme), seeking to hold them responsible for their actions that contributed to the mass shooting on the Oxford High School campus. The lawsuit highlights the several catastrophic mistakes that led to the tragedy.

On November 26, 2021, the father of an Oxford High School student went to Acme Shooting Goods with his minor son and purchased a Sig Sauer Model SP 2022 9 mm semi-automatic pistol as an early Christmas gift for the child. After bringing the weapon into their home, he left it unlocked in a bedside table, giving the minor easy access to the gun.

On November 29, a teacher at Oxford High School reported seeing the boy searching the internet for ammunition on his phone. The following morning, another teacher found a chilling and threatening drawing and note the boy created. The teacher followed the appropriate protocol by reporting this note to the administration. The student was sent to the office with his backpack in tow where the gun was concealed. The student’s parents were asked to come to the school immediately. During the meeting, with the parents and the student present, the school administrators asked the parents to take their child home, but they refused. After the parents refused to take their child home,  the parents were instructed that they were required to get him counseling within 48 hours. Tragically and inexplicably, the student was then sent back to class. Never during the meeting did anyone search the student’s bag, have any discussion about whether he had access to a gun, or call the police officer liaison for assistance. Instead, the student was returned to his classroom with his backpack and the weapon inside. Shortly after, the boy went on a shooting spree, killing four students and injuring several others.

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Matthew and Mary Mueller, are representatives of their 14-year-old son, who was one of the students who was shot. He raised his hand to protect his face, and the bullet went through his hand and into his face and jaw. The suit is the first associated with the tragedy to name Acme Shooting Goods, the dealer that we allege made a straw sale to the shooter.

Among the various allegations, the plaintiffs claim the school district and district employees neglected to address serious concerns about the shooter being a known danger to himself and others, leading to the mass shooting and their son’s injury. They allege the shooter was troubled, and professionals at the school and the district recognized the life-threatening danger he posed to himself and the others in the building. Administrators failed to protect students killed, physically injured, and emotionally scarred by this tragedy. Further, the school district was complicit by maintaining policies and procedures that allowed the shooting to occur instead of instituting policies that would have prevented the shooter’s criminal acts and behavior.

The lawsuit also alleges Acme had actual or constructive knowledge that the shooter’s father unlawfully purchased the firearm for his minor son – a “straw sale” violating state and federal law. The gun dealer ignored one or more “red flags” that indicated the sale was unlawful and could have reasonably foreseen a juvenile would have illegal access to the firearm that was used to cause the tragic shooting at Oxford High School.

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