School shooting victims file lawsuit against Kentucky school district

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The families of four victims of a school shooting in Kentucky last year have filed a lawsuit against the school district alleging staff members were not properly trained to handle the shooting.

The families of Bailey Holt, Gage Smock, Mary Bella James and Dalton Keeling filed the suit on Tuesday, a day before the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., WKMS reported.

Holt was one of two students killed in the shooting, while the other three students were injured, according to WKMS. The family of the second student who died in the shooting, Preston Cope, is not a plaintiff in the case.{mosads}

The lawsuit claims that the Marshall County School District did not properly train school staff to handle the January 2018 shooting and that the district-wide emergency action plan failed.

The suspect, a 15-year-old male student, opened fired and shot more than a dozen people before being disarmed and apprehended by sheriff’s deputies. The lawsuit claims that the suspect exhibited dangerous tendencies that the school district should have known about, WKMS reported.

The families have also filed lawsuits against the suspect’s mother and stepfather, claiming the parents were negligent and failed to safely secure the household’s firearm.

Michael Owsely, the attorney representing the school district, told the outlet that the lawsuit being filed the day before the shooting’s anniversary was in poor taste. 

“It’s such a time for reflection with the year coming up tomorrow that it’s a difficult time there for everybody, even without the litigation,” Owsely said.

Sheila Heistand, one of the lawyers representing the families, told WKMS that Kentucky law only allows civil wrongful death lawsuits to be filed within one year of the incident.

The lawsuit is also meant to spur the district to better prepare for emergencies, Heistand said. 

“Every single one of these parents have said all they want is change. We can’t continue to watch these massacres occur day after day and sit idly by while no one intervenes to save the lives of our current and future students and teachers,” Hiestand said.

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