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Families of July 4 parade shooting victims sue Smith & Wesson

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An aerial photo shows an American flag at half-staff as law enforcement officials investigate the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July celebration and parade in Highland Park, Ill. File Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
An aerial photo shows an American flag at half-staff as law enforcement officials investigate the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July celebration and parade in Highland Park, Ill. File Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed by family members of three people killed during a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb claims gunmaker Smith & Wesson "facilitates violence for profit" and pushes advertising that encourages young loners to carry out such attacks.

The civil action filed in Lake County, Ill., on Wednesday alleges the accused gunman, Robert Crimo III, "was the type of young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing."

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The lawsuit says Crimo was an unstable and impressionable young consumer, obsessed with violence and filled with hatred and depressive thoughts, making him likely to respond to Smith & Wesson's marketing and engage in dangerous behavior.

The lawsuit accuses the gunmaker of promoting ad campaigns on social media that pop up around violent video game content, with the company intentionally marketing "its assault rifles to young, impulsive men by appealing to their propensity for risk and excitement," the suit claims.

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"Our legal theory on the complaint is that this was predictable and preventable," said attorney Anthony Romanucci, whose law firm is helping bring nearly a dozen legal claims related to the shooting.

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The firm, Romanucci & Blandin, said more than 40 survivors have signed on to the complaint.

The lawsuit accuses Smith & Wesson of using fraudulent marketing practices to sell its M&P assault weapons, the kind used in the attack, by telling consumers the guns will allow them "to act like service members and engage in combat."

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It also accuses two gun stores and Crimo of violating the state Consumer Fraud Act, and notes that the suspect was enabled by his father to carry out the shooting.

Bud's Gun Shop in Lexington, Ky., and Red Dot Arms in Lake County -- where Crimo acquired the M&P assault rifle he used in the attack, should have known it was illegal to own a high-powered weapon in the man's hometown of Highwood, Ill., the suit states.

At the time he bought the guns, Crimo was also known to police after being called to his residence on several occasions, including once three years earlier when he allegedly threatened to "kill everyone" in his family, authorities said.

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A separate legal team has filed an 11th claim for another plaintiff, while a 12th case is l pending.

Seven people were killed during the shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park on the Fourth of July when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop as hundreds gathered for a community parade.

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Crimo, now 22, was indicted in July on 117 counts, including multiple charges of first-degree murder and 48 counts each of attempted murder and aggravated battery for those who were wounded in the shooting.

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