Family of slain exchange student joins lawsuit against Texas school shooter's parents
The parents of 17-year-old Sabika Aziz Sheikh have become the seventh plaintiff set in a lawsuit against the parents of Dimitrious Pagourtzis, also 17, the alleged gunman in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18 of this year. Sabika, a Pakistani native studying abroad, was one of the eight students (and two substitute teachers) who perished in the massacre, which also injured 13 others.
The lawsuit, led by Everytown For Gun Safety attorneys and filed by local attorney Clint E. McGuire, alleges that Pagourtzis’ parents, in particular his father, were negligent in both their lax storage of the guns used in the massacre and in keeping knowledge of their son’s instability to themselves.
According to the lawsuit, Sabika’s family is accusing Pagourtzis’ parents of knowing their son “was experiencing extreme emotional distress but failed to take basic steps to responsibly store and prevent him from accessing their firearms.”
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the family explained why they joined the lawsuit, seeking actual damages and punitive damages of $1,000,000.
Sabika’s family … hopes the suit will force accountability on not just gun owners, but on people who ignore warning signs in their loved ones, even though they know of the risk they might pose to others.
“We believe that the shooter’s parents had multiple opportunities to stop what had happened, and they did not engage in anything,” [Sabika’s cousin Shaheera Jalil] Albasit said. “The motivation behind this lawsuit is that any gun owner in the US must feel an obligation when it comes to their weapons, not just in storing them safely, but in speaking up when they believe that someone around them is at risk of harming themselves or people around them.”