If not for the conduct of a Montgomery County, Pa., gun dealer, a Plymouth
Township police officer would not have been fatally shot while pursuing a hit and run suspect in 2012, according to a federal suit filed in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
The lawsuit alleges that In Site Firearms & Law Enforcement Supplies, located in Jeffersonville, Pa., knew or should have known that the man who bought a 9mm Beretta in 2012 was a straw purchaser, buying a gun for another person. The seller of the gun used to kill Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox is liable for his death, according to the complaint filed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Dechert LLP on behalf of Fox's widow, Lynsay Fox.
“Most gun dealers are responsible business people, but unfortunately a few bad apples endanger our communities by putting profits over the lives of people, and choosing to supply the criminal gun market,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel for Fox. “‘Bad apple’ gun dealers must be held accountable for their irresponsible sales practices in order to make our communities safer.”
According to the complaint, In Site Firearms sold six guns to Michael Henry between April 2012 and July 2012, including the pistol used to kill Fox. Henry straw-purchased these six weapons for Andrew Thomas, who could not pass a background check due to his prior criminal record.
The complaint states that each time Henry made a straw purchase at In Site Firearms for Thomas, Thomas provided Henry with cash, waited for him to complete the purchase, and then took possession of each gun in the store’s parking lot.
The complaint argues that In Site Firearms failed to comply with its legal obligations, use reasonable care, implement best practices, and/or otherwise take appropriate and necessary steps to minimize the risk of selling guns to straw purchasers. The complaint also alleges that In Site Firearms’ failures were in knowing and willful violation of its duties as a licensed gun dealer and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
“The senseless shooting of Brad Fox left his wife Lynsay a young widow, with a young child and their second on the way,” said Hope S. Freiwald, partner with Dechert LLP and co-counsel for Fox. “It is a testament to Lynsay’s courage and strength that while raising their two kids on her own, she is bringing this lawsuit to prevent other families from suffering as she has.”
Fox — a U.S. marine who survived two tours of duty in Iraq — was killed when Andrew Thomas shot him in September 2012. Fox’s murder and the straw purchase by which Thomas acquired the gun spurred a statewide campaign against straw purchasing, culminating in the passage of the “Brad Fox Law” that established mandatory minimum sentences for repeat straw purchasers. Thomas committed suicide after killing Fox, and Henry was sentenced to 20 to 66 years in prison for the straw purchase.
The lawsuit for Lynsay Fox names In Site Firearms, which is incorporated as L&J Supply, LLC, as well as Luke Kelly, a retired West Norriton police officer, and others who have owned, operated and/or controlled the business.
Representing the plaintiffs are Hope S. Freiwald and Wayne I. Pollock of Dechert LLP in Philadelphia, and Jonathan E. Lowy and Robert B. Wilcox, Jr. of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project in Washington, D.C.