The family of one of the victims in the Washington Navy Yard shooting has filed a lawsuit against two federal government agencies and two government contractors alleging that they failed to secure the Southeast D.C. facility and failed to respond appropriately to the myriad signs of mental health issues the shooter exhibited in the months and years before the massacre. The complaint — filed in federal court in Florida on behalf of the family of Mary Frances DeLorenzo Knight — is the first lawsuit in the wake of the September shooting rampage. The shootings were carried out by a gunman who had an all-access security pass to the military installation. Ms. Knight, a computer scientist, was one of a dozen people gunned down by Aaron Alexis at the Navy Yard.
Ms. Knight’s family members filed a claim last month, which was preliminary to filing suit against the government. The suit names the Navy, the Department of Veterans Affairs and two government contractors as defendants. Like the claim, the suit alleges a detailed recitation of Alexis’s troubled past, which should have put the Defendants on notice. The U.S. government and its various contractors should have noticed the many warning signs of Alexis’s instability before issuing him a security clearance. Failing that, they should have installed a metal detector at the Navy Yard to prevent someone from getting inside with a gun.
Sidney L. Matthew, a Tallahassee, Fla., lawyer, represents the Knight family in this lawsuit. We will watch this litigation very closely. There is some whistleblower litigation ongoing that deals with the same subject matter.
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