LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky gun shop that sold an assault weapon to a man who used it to kill five co-workers and wrote in his journal the gun was “so easy” to buy is facing a lawsuit filed Monday from survivors and families of the victims.
The civil suit filed in Louisville alleges River City Firearms should have been more suspicious of the sale and noticed red flags when Connor Sturgeon bought the gun six days before the April 10 shooting. Sturgeon walked into Old National Bank and opened fire on co-workers who were having a morning meeting, killing five and injuring several others. A responding police officer was also shot.
Sturgeon, 25, struggled with mental illness and wrote in a journal he was “very sick,” according to an extensive Louisville police report on the shootings released in November.
River City Firearms is a federally licensed dealer, which means sellers there are “trained to spot individuals who … may have nefarious intentions,” according to the lawsuit. Patrons inside the store said Sturgeon had little knowledge of firearms and appeared embarrassed during the purchase, the lawsuit said. The shop has a “legal duty” to withhold a sale from a buyer who it can reasonably tell might be a danger to others, the suit said.
The owners of the store should know that AR-15-style weapons like the one Sturgeon bought “have become the go-to weapon for young men intent on causing mass destruction,” according to the lawsuit. which was first reported by the Courier Journal.
Sturgeon bought a Radical Firearms RF-15, 120 rounds and four magazine cartridges for $762. He wrote in his journal the process took about 45 minutes.
“Seriously, I knew it would be doable but this is ridiculous,” he wrote.
River City Firearms did not immediately respond to an email message sent to the store Monday. A phone call to the store was not answered Monday evening.
Sturgeon fired more than 40 rounds over the course of about eight minutes, according to the Louisville police report. Investigators said he did not appear to have a firm understanding of how to operate the weapon. Sturgeon was fatally shot by a responding Louisville police officer just minutes after the shooting began.
The families of two of the deceased victims — Joshua Barrick and James Tutt — are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with three shooting survivors.
The lawsuit was filed by lawyers from the Chicago law firm Romanucci & Blandin, along with Louisville attorney Tad Thomas and Everytown Law, a Washington-based firm that seeks to advance gun safety laws in the courts.