Federal immigration officials negligently allowed a Kansas City, Kan., man to remain in the country illegally before he allegedly killed five men in a 2016 shooting spree, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., by the families of two of the five men who Pablo Serrano-Vitorino is now charged with killing.
Serrano-Vitorino had previously been deported after he was convicted of a felony in 2003.
But according to the suit, Serrano-Vitorino re-entered the country illegally and had several brushes with local law enforcement agencies before March 2016, when he allegedly stormed into a neighbor’s home in Kansas City, Kan., and fatally shot four men.
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Later that day, he allegedly shot and killed another man in Montgomery County, Mo., before he was arrested.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the widow and two children of Clint Harter, one of the four men killed in Kansas City, Kan., and the widow of Randy Nordman, the Missouri man who was killed.
According to the suit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had the opportunity to detain Serrano-Vitorino for illegally re-entering the country after he was arrested in 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, Wyandotte County officials notified ICE that Serrano-Vitorino was in jail for domestic battery, according to the suit. But authorities had to release him because no ICE agent came to interview him in person.
Then in 2015, he was pulled over by Overland Park police for traffic violations. After he was fingerprinted at Overland Park Municipal Court, ICE prepared paperwork to have him detained.
But the paperwork was sent to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, which did not have Serrano-Vitorino in custody. Overland Park officials, unaware of the paperwork, released him.
“Clint and Randy’s deaths are the direct and proximate result of the failure of ICE officials, officers and/or agents to carry out their required duties, which failure provided the means for a convicted felon who was illegally in the country, but in custody, to be released and kill Clint and Randy and three other victims,” according to the suit.
An ICE spokesman said Monday that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
“Clint and Randy’s deaths were foreseeable and preventable had the ICE officials, officers and/or agents involved simply followed the laws, regulations and/or procedures, which they were required to uphold,” the suit says.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
Serrano-Vitorino is currently jailed in St. Louis where he is awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree murder in Nordman’s death. The case was moved from Montgomery County on a change of venue.
He also is charged with first-degree murder in Wyandotte County for the deaths of Clint Harter; his brother, Austin Harter; Mike Capps; and Jeremy Waters.