Two families seek to hold Lubbock man accountable for mass shooting that took 7 lives

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The lawsuit was filed in Ector County against Marcus Braziel of Lubbock

Images of Joseph Griffith, and Leilah Hernandez from lawsuit filed by their families

LUBBOCK, Texas — The families of two people killed in a mass shooting on August 31, 2019, sued Marcus Anthony Braziel of Lubbock and WM. C. Anderson Inc. d/b/a Anderson Manufacturing.

The lawsuit was filed Friday morning in Ector County. After the shooting, officials identified Seth Ator as the gunman who killed seven people and wounded many more in a shooting spree through Odessa. Police returned fire on Ator outside a theater and killed him.

Among those who lost their lives were Joseph Griffith, and Leilah Hernandez. The Griffith and Hernandez families sued Braziel and Anderson for damages of $1 million or more.

“Seth Ator killed seven people including my little brother and this beautiful 15-year-old girl.  And Marcus Braziel put the gun in his hand.”

Carla Griffith Byrne

The lawsuit said, “Under Federal law, the shooter was prohibited from buying or possessing a weapon due to a disqualifying mental health issue. He purchased the murder weapon from Braziel in a private sale.”

Days after the mass murder, federal agents raided Braziel’s home in the 3400 block of Mesa Road in Lubbock.

Federal court records later revealed that agents confiscated 29 firearms or firearm accessories. Prosecutors requested permission from a judge to permanently forfeit the firearms from Braziel. Braziel filed court records denying any wrongdoing. Braziel asked to get the guns back. The issue remained pending in court as of Friday.

“These families have asked me to file this lawsuit to seek justice,” said attorney John Sloan, “… for the unimaginable losses they have suffered.”

Sloan spoke to news reporters after filing the lawsuit. Sloan said he and the families are pushing for a law that would require background checks on all gun sales including private sales.

“It’s going to be shown that if that law were in effect, this gun sale would never have occurred,” Sloan said. “The shooter had already failed a background check.”

The lawsuit said Braziel manufactured and sold AR-type rifles and other firearms without holding a federal license.

“He … assembled guns and sold to all comers,” Sloan said.

“The shooter walks into Mr. Braziel’s house and he’s got two teardrop tattoos on his face,” Sloan said. “My experience is those teardrops represent lives.”

Sloan was making the point that Braziel should have scrutinized Ator.

“What about those tattoos. Why do you have those?”

The sister of Joseph Griffith, Carla Griffith Byrne, also spoke at the news conference.

“Seth Ator killed seven people including my little brother and this beautiful 15-year-old girl. And Marcus Braziel put the gun in his hand,” Byrne said.

Byrne went on to say, “Some people say, ‘A criminal is going to get a gun anyway.’ Yes! Yes! He or she will. But then we can prosecute the person who sold the gun to them without a background check.”

She asked rhetorically, “When are enough of us going to step forward and say enough is enough?”

EverythingLubbock.com reached out to an attorney for Braziel. If the invitation for comment is accepted, EverythingLubbock will provide an update.

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