(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Several victims of the Club Q mass shooting in November say they plan to sue the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) for failing to enact a red flag order on the alleged shooter before the attack.
According to the Associated Press (AP), documents obtained by The Denver Post reveal 11 survivors and relatives of those killed in the shooting notified EPSO in May that they intended to file lawsuits over the sheriff’s office failing to enact an extreme risk protection, or red flag order, against the shooter following previous violent encounters with law enforcement.
A red flag order is a state law that allows authorities to get a court order seizing someone’s weapons and preventing them from legally buying more if authorities can prove the person poses a threat to themselves or others.
The shooter was arrested in June 2021, one year and five months before the Club Q shooting, following a bomb threat and standoff situation involving the shooter’s family in Security-Widefield. After the shooter’s arrest, authorities found bomb-making materials as well as guns inside the home.
The guns seized as evidence in that case were never returned, however, the shooter’s right to obtain weapons was restored in July 2022, four months before the shooting, according to EPSO. After the details of the 2021 incident were unsealed, EPSO said that its office would not have been able to seek a red flag order following that incident because the case was dismissed and records sealed, meaning there was technically no available evidence to back up a red flag order.
EPSO sent out a statement when the records were unsealed, saying that then-Sheriff Bill Elder stood behind the actions of his office and its handling of the 2021 incident. “Everything lawfully possible was accomplished by EPSO personnel in accordance with applicable and available state laws to keep weapons away from [the suspect] and protect the public,” EPSO said in its statement on Dec. 8, 2022.
FOX21 News reached out to EPSO, but the sheriff’s office said it does not comment on pending litigation.
The AP reports that victims are seeking more than $160 million in the lawsuit.
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