LOS ANGELES -- The family of a girl killed three months ago when a sniper opened fire on students in a grammar school playground filed a $5.5-million claim Friday against the city and the school district.
Attorney T. Michael Fehmel, representing the family of 10-year-old Shala Eubanks, said he believes police and school officials knew there was an armed man inside the house across the street from the 49th Street Elementary School at least two hours before Tyrone Mitchell opened fire from a second-story window Feb. 24.
'Their failure to do anything was pure negligence,' Fehmel charged.
Shala was killed as she crossed the school's playground with other children at the end of the school day. Mitchell also wounded 13 people, including two who later died of their injuries, then shot and killed himself before police stormed the home.
Fehmel said interviews with witnesses living near the school indicated that shots in the neighborhood had been reported to police at least two hours before the sniping attack. But he said he has not yet reviewed police records to confirm those reports.
'We believe the police should have at least investigated the reported shooting from a house directly across the street from the school,' the attorney said.
He also charged that school employees were aware of the earlier shooting, but did nothing to protect the children leaving the school.
Police Cmdr. William Booth said he could not comment on Fehmel's allegations.