School Shooter’s Parents Deny Responsibility in Response to Lawsuit From Victim’s Family

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
January 30, 2019US News
School Shooter’s Parents Deny Responsibility in Response to Lawsuit From Victim’s Family
Ella Whistler serves as a grand marshal as she rides with her family in the Fourth of July Parade in Noblesville, Ind., on July 4, 2018. (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP, File)

The parents of a 13-year-old who opened fire in an Indiana school in May 2018 responded to a lawsuit filed by a victim’s family by claiming the shooting was “unforeseeable.”

Ella Whistler and her parents, Cory and Julia Whistler, filed a civil lawsuit against the parents of the boy on Nov. 19, about six months after she was shot seven times in her science classroom in Noblesville West Middle School.

The family said that Ella’s injuries were a “foreseeable consequence” of the boy’s parents not acting despite their son’s obsession with firearms and violence, reported the Indianapolis Star. The boy admitted in court that he obtained the guns from his house and testimony revealed the boy’s dad, who owned the weapons and kept them in a gun safe in the basement, took his son shooting and taught him about how to operate the guns.

The 13-year-old shooter “knew precisely where the key to the gun safe was located” and his parents “should have taken reasonable steps to prevent [his] access to their firearms, ammunition and other weapons” and steps to “more closely monitor [his] behavior, including his internet and other computer use,” the Whistlers said in the lawsuit.

“[The parents] knew or should have known that [the boy] had unusual and potentially violent propensities,” the Whistler’s complaint added.

“That [he] had a disconcerting attraction to and obsession with firearms and violence; that [he] suffered from mental and psychological disorders; that (he) took pleasure in violence in others and lacked empathy; and that [he] had the capacity to commit violent acts.”

Shooter’s Parents Respond

In their response, the parents of the boy said that they didn’t have any personal responsibility for their son’s actions saying it was caused by him and Noblesville Schools, reported WTHR.

The parents asked that if the court orders them to pay the Whistlers any damages, the money should be offset by the amount the victim’s family has already received from insurance, donations, and other places.

The fate of the shooter still isn’t known. He was sentenced to stay in a juvenile detention facility until his 18th birthday or until the Department of Correction considers him rehabilitated, but his parents have requested a trial by jury.

The filing came after the boy’s mother said during the juvenile court hearing in November that neither she nor her husband had any clue regarding their son’s planned attack.

“It never crossed my mind that he was potentially the person doing the shooting,” she told the judge, reported the IndyStar.

According to experts cited by the outlet, the parents likely won’t face criminal charges but the civil suit could level them with legal consequences.

Hero Teacher Awarded

Jason Seaman, a science teacher at the high school who was credited with stopping the shooter from doing more damage, was honored in December with the “Sagamore of the Wabash” award by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The award is the state’s highest civilian honor.

“Jason has been a person of high integrity his whole life—always putting others before himself, teaching his students to live lives of good character while always seeking to make his community a better place,” Holcomb said, reported RTV6.

“He certainly demonstrated that yet again last May and inspired us all. Quite simply, Jason makes me proud to be a Hoosier.”

Also in December, Seaman was made an honorary captain for the Chicago Bears for a game against the Green Bay Packers.

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