Uvalde families sue Meta, creator of ‘Call of Duty’

Austin, Texas –

Uvalde families took further legal action Friday on the second anniversary of the Robb Elementary School attack, suing Meta Platforms, which owns Instagram, and the maker of the “Call of Duty” video game over claims that the companies are responsible for products used by teenage gunman.

They also filed another lawsuit against Daniel Defense, which manufactured the AR-style rifle used in the May 24, 2022, shooting, and has already been sued.

It added to growing demands over the attack and came as the small Texas town gathered to mourn the anniversary of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The gunman killed 19 students and two teachers and was eventually confronted by officers and shot after waiting more than an hour to enter the fourth grade classroom.

“There is a direct line between the conduct of these companies and the Uvalde shooting,” said Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the families. “This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems, and trained him to use it.”

Some of the same families filed a $500 million lawsuit Wednesday against Texas State Police officials and agents who were part of the botched police response that day. More than 370 federal, state and local agents responded, but waited more than an hour to confront the shooter inside the classroom as students and teachers lay dead, dying or injured.

Friday’s lawsuits are not the first to accuse technology companies of playing a role in radicalizing or influencing mass shooters. Families of victims of a May 2022 attack on a Buffalo, New York, supermarket are suing social media companies, including Meta and Instagram, over content on their platforms.

The lawsuit against Georgia-based gun maker Daniel Defense was filed in Texas by the same group of 19 families who filed the lawsuit Wednesday. The lawsuit against Meta and Activision Blizzard, the creator of “Call of Duty,” was filed in California along with additional families of victims of the attack.

Activision called the Uvalde shooting “horrendous and heartbreaking in every way, and we express our deepest condolences to the families and communities who continue to be affected by this senseless act of violence. Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without resort to horrible acts.”

A video game industry trade group also rejected blaming the games for the violence, arguing that research has found no link.

“We are saddened and outraged by the senseless acts of violence. At the same time, we discourage unfounded accusations linking these tragedies to video games, which detract from efforts to focus on the root issues at hand and safeguard against future tragedies.” Entertainment Software said. The association said.

The amount of compensation sought in the new lawsuits was not immediately clear.

According to the lawsuits, the Uvalde shooter had been playing versions of “Call of Duty” since he was 15, including one that allowed him to effectively practice with the version of the rifle he used in school. The families also accused Instagram of doing little to enforce its rules prohibiting the marketing of firearms and content harmful to children.

The Uvalde shooter opened an online account with Daniel Defense before he turned 18 and purchased the rifle as soon as he could, according to the lawsuit.

“At the same time, on Instagram, the shooter was being courted through explicit and aggressive marketing. In addition to hundreds of images depicting and venerating the thrill of combat, Daniel Defense used Instagram to extol the illegal and murderous use of his weapons “said the families. the lawyers said in a statement.

Daniel Defense and Meta did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

At a congressional hearing in 2022, Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniels called the Uvalde shooting and others like it “pure evil” and “deeply disturbing.”

A separate lawsuit filed by different plaintiffs in December 2022 against local and state police, the city and other school and law enforcement authorities seeks at least $27 billion and class-action status for survivors. At least two other lawsuits have been filed against Daniel Defense.

In Uvalde, community members planned a vigil to remember those killed. Other events included the ringing of bells and the release of butterflies at a local church.

“As we mark this solemn day, let us pray for those we lost, their loved ones, and all those who were injured,” President Joe Biden said in a letter to the community.