Law: Beltway sniper gun shop settles law suit
The New York Times reports a settlement in the law suit some survivors of shootings by the Beltway snipers brought against the gun store that sold the weapon used in most of the killings. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were convicted of several counts of first degree murder, and conspiracy, in the case.
A judge has signed off on a $2 million settlement between a Tacoma gun shop and relatives of victims of the East Coast sniper attacks. In the settlement, which was reached in September, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma agreed to pay $2 million to two survivors and six families related to the victims of the snipers. The manufacturer of the weapon in the shootings, Bushmaster Firearms of Windham, Me., agreed to pay an additional $500,000. The two snipers reportedly stole the firearm from Bull's Eye. The families' suit contended that the shop's owners were negligent in allowing that gun and others to disappear and that Bushmaster was at fault for shipping the gun to an irresponsible dealer. Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson of Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma approved the settlement this month.
I do not believe that the rifle used in the shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area was necessarily stolen. Bull's Eye has a long history of a high number of guns disappearing. It seems likely that someone was selling guns under the table.
Last year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked the license of the owner of Bull's Eye, Brian Borgelt. However, it was transferred to a friend of his. Borgelt still operates a business on the premises.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
TACOMA -- Federal regulators have approved transferring the ownership of the Tacoma gun store that was the source of the rifle linked to the Beltway snipers who terrorized the nation's capital last fall.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Friday granted a firearms license to Chris Kindschuh to own and operate Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, according to an ATF spokesman and lawyer Jim Frush, who represents former owner Brian Borgelt.
The sale of the store and its stock has been in process for months. Borgelt had little choice but to sell Bull's Eye after the ATF revoked his federal firearms license at the beginning of the month.
The case, though it did not go to trial, broke new ground in liability for crimes in which guns are used. Court TV explains.
The settlement with Bushmaster marks the first time a gun manufacturer has agreed to pay damages to settle claims of negligent distribution of weapons, said Jon Lowy, a lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Lowy, who helped argue the case, also said the settlement with Bull's Eye Shooter Supply is the largest against a gun dealer.
"These settlements send a loud and clear message that the gun industry cannot turn a blind eye to how criminals get their guns," Lowy said.
The Beltway sniper killings occurred in the fall of 2002. Three people were wounded and 10 killed in the Washington, D.C. area. But, the crime spree may have begun in the Pacific Northwest. It is believed Malvo, an adolescent, shot and killed a young woman mistaken for a former friend Muhammad had targeted for revenge. Other unsolved crimes in Colorado and Alabama have also been linked to the pair. Muhammad was sentenced to death for two of the Beltway shootings. Malvo will serve life in prison.
Read more about the sorry record of Borchelt and Bull's Eye in an investigative article from the Seattle Times.