The parents of a Pakistani exchange student killed during a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the suspected shooter’s parents on Wednesday.
Sabika Sheikh was one of 10 people killed in May after 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly opened fire inside Santa Fe High School.
Her parents, Abdul Aziz and Farah Naz, filed suit against Pagourtzis’s parents, alleging they “negligently and irresponsibly stored their firearms so their son could access them.”
The lawsuit also claims that the Pagourtzis family ignored warning signs showing their teenager was a risk to others, including his fascination with the Columbine High School shooting.
Aziz and Naz are being represented by the litigation team from gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Like all gun owners, gun-owning parents have a responsibility to securely store their firearms,” Molly Thomas-Jensen, counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “What happened at Santa Fe High School is a tragic reminder of why responsible gun storage is so critical. We’ll do all we can to deliver some measure of justice for Sabika’s family — and to prevent future tragedies by highlighting the deadly risks of irresponsible gun storage.”
Sheikh, 17, was in the U.S. as part of the State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study program, which provides scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the U.S.
“No other parent should ever have to experience this unbearable grief,” her parents said in a statement. “Sabika's picture is in front of our eyes every single moment, and her voice and laughter echo in our ears."
"For a mother and a father, this trauma and mourning stay until their last breath. We are grateful to everyone in the U.S. and around the world who met us in person and reached us through emails, print, electronic and social media to express solidarity and empower us to endure this most profound tragedy," they continued.
Ten people were killed and 13 injured in the attack on May 18, which reportedly began when Pagourtzis opened fire in an art classroom.
Police found journal entries and social media posts referencing violence and the desire to commit an attack, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
Pagourtzis was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and charged with capital murder.
Updated at 5:35 p.m.