courtroom

New Mexico District Sued For Not Taking Enough Action To Prevent 2017 School Shooting

The family of Casey Jordan Marquez, who was killed by a shooter at Aztec High School, says the district ignored security recommendations and did not adequately respond to threats.

The family of a student killed in a 2017 shooting at Aztec High School in New Mexico have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district and police, arguing that officials failed to take action to make the campus more secure.

Casey Jordan Marquez and a classmate, Francisco Fernandez, were killed by a 21-year-old shooter on the morning of Dec. 7, 2017. The gunman shot both of them multiple times before walking down a hallway and firing randomly. Shortly after, he turned the gun on himself.

While the New Mexico legislature has allocated more money for districts to spend on school safety improvements, the Marquez family argues that the Aztec district could have done more prior to the shooting. The lawsuit accuses the district of not following recommendations from a 2013 campus security assessment and not reporting the gunman’s 2012 suspension for “memorializing” the Columbine High School shooters on a school whiteboard, The Associated Press reported.

The school security assessment proposed that the district use fences and gates to funnel everyone entering and leaving schools through a main entrance. In addition, the report also asked officials to consider installing fencing around the entire school and lock all exterior doors each day after classes began.

In response, some district officials said the risk of a school shooting was “simply too remote” to warrant investing more resources in safety measures, The Farmington Daily Times reported. All district and police officials named in the complaint, including the superintendent and chief of police, declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Outside of the assessment, the lawsuit also criticizes police for failing to forward threat information they received in 2016 to the district or the school resource officer. The FBI put the wrong member of the shooter’s family in the threat warning as well, the family alleges.

The district has failed to take enough action since the shooting, the Marquez family told the AP.

"You can still walk on that campus no problem, you can still enter the back doors, the rear exits, no problem," Jamie Lattin, Marquez’s mother said.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Digital Edition