Families sue Wal-Mart, others for selling guns used in Jewish facility murders

William L. Corporon
William L. Corporon

Relatives of three people shot to death in 2014 outside Jewish facilities in Overland Park have filed lawsuits over the sale of guns used in the shootings.

The family of William Corporon and his grandson, Reat Underwood, who were fatally shot outside the Jewish Community Center, filed suit Tuesday in Johnson County District Court.

In two identical suits on behalf of each victim, they allege that employees of a Wal-Mart store in Republic, Mo., were negligent when they sold a shotgun later used to kill Corporon and Reat.

“Gun dealers, including Wal-Mart, owe a duty to use the highest standard of care to prevent the supply of firearms to those prohibited from possessing them,” they said in their suits.

On Monday, the family of Terri LaManno, who was killed outside Village Shalom care center, filed a similar suit in Jackson County Circuit Court against Wal-Mart, a gun store in Lebanon, Mo., and the operators of a gun show where guns were purchased.

F. Glenn Miller Jr., a 75-year-old southern Missouri neo-Nazi, carried out the attacks on April 13, 2014, in an effort to kill as many Jews as possible. None of the victims was Jewish.

A Johnson County jury convicted Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., last year. He was sentenced to death.

Miller, who was a previously convicted felon, could not legally buy or possess firearms.

According to the lawsuits, he enlisted another southern Missouri man, John Mark Reidle, to purchase the weapons.

Federal prosecutors charged Reidle for falsely claiming on a federal form that he was purchasing guns for himself. He pleaded guilty last fall and was placed on probation.

On April 9, 2014, Reidle bought a shotgun from the Republic Wal-Mart.

According to the suits filed by the Corporon family, Miller and Reidle went to the Wal-Mart store together and Miller selected a Remington 12-gauge shotgun in the presence of at least one Wal-Mart employee.

The suit alleges that Miller “initiated” the purchase, but then claimed that he didn’t have any identification, and offered to have Reidle purchase the weapon, which he did.

“Given the circumstances of the purchase, Wal-Mart should have taken affirmative steps to confirm that Miller was the actual purchaser and intended user of the Remington shotgun, and that the sale of the shotgun to Reidle, a straw buyer, was illegal,” according to the suits.

Four days later, Miller used that shotgun to shoot Corporon, 69, and Reat, 14, outside the Jewish Community Center where Reat was participating in a singing competition.

Miller, 75, also used a semi-automatic rifle and handgun to fire at others outside and inside the center before he drove to the nearby Village Shalom retirement center.

There, he encountered the 53-year-old LaManno, who was visiting her mother, a resident of Village Shalom.

According to trial testimony, he attempted to shoot her with the shotgun but it misfired. He then got another shotgun from his car trunk and shot LaManno.

That weapon was purchased from employees of Friendly Firearms from Lebanon at a Springfield gun show in October 2013, according to the suit filed by LaManno’s family.

A spokesman for Friendly Firearms said Tuesday he had not seen the suit and could not comment.

Also named as defendants are R.K. Shows Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and R.K. Shows, Mo., Inc., of Clayton, Mo.

A call seeking comment from R.K. Shows was not returned.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart said that the company expresses condolences to the families who lost loved ones, but that because company officials have not seen the suits they cannot comment on them.

According to the suit filed by the LaManno family, the gun sellers’ employees should have known that a straw buyer was purchasing the weapons for someone other than himself when he allegedly made the purchases on behalf of Miller.

Based on the remarks and behavior of Reidle and Miller, employees of Friendly Firearms and Wal-Mart “knew, had reason to know, or recklessly failed to know that Miller was not lawfully entitled to purchase or possess a firearm,” according to the suit.

“The Corporon family’s claims do not challenge law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights to purchase guns or law-abiding retailers rights to sell guns,” said attorney David Morantz who is representing the family. “These lawsuits seek to hold retailers accountable for adhering to long-established laws designed to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of dangerous criminals and designed to prevent tragedies like the shootings of April 13, 2014.”

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

Mike Hendricks: 816-234-4738, @kcmikehendricks