Family of Boulder King Soopers shooting victim sues gunmaker Ruger

The family of one of the 10 victims in the 2021 mass shooting at a King Soopers store in Boulder is suing Ruger, the company that manufactured the gun reportedly used by the shooter.

The family of Suzanne Fountain, 59, filed the lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court, in the state where Sturm, Ruger and Company Inc. is headquartered.

The lawsuit claims Ruger violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and was a “substantial factor” in the death of Fountain.

Boulder police said the suspected gunman, Ahmad Alissa, purchased a Ruger AR-556 in Arvada in the days before the shooting and then used the weapon to kill 10 people, including Fountain.

The weapon is technically classified as a pistol due to barrel and stock alterations, but the lawsuit accuses Ruger of making the changes “to evade federal classification as a rifle” while still keeping “features that were chosen to maximize casualties and engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.”

“Ruger designed the AR-556 to be sold with stabilizing braces that essentially allowed the weapon to be converted to a rifle while still preserving its classification as a pistol for regulatory purposes,” the lawsuit reads. “Ruger’s marketing and sale of the AR-556 pistol with stabilizing arm braces allowed its weapon to function as a stock-stabilized AR-15 rifle, while evading regulations targeted at limiting AR-15-style rifles.”

The lawsuit said Ruger “promoted criminal use of its AR-556s by its target market,” and “promoted its AR-556s for mass casualty assaults.”

“Ruger marketed its AR-556s without regard for public safety,” the lawsuit reads. “Ruger’s marketing was unethical, Ruger’s marketing was immoral, Ruger’s marketing was unscrupulous, Ruger’s marketing was oppressive, Ruger’s marketing was reckless.”

According to an arrest affidavit, police were called to the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive at 2:40 p.m. March 22, 2021, for a report of an armed man who had shot a person in a vehicle in the store’s parking lot and was inside the store.

Eric Talley, a 51-year-old Boulder police officer, was the first to arrive on scene and was shot and killed. Police said Alissa fired at other responding officers before one of the responding officers shot Alissa in the leg.

Alissa later surrendered to police. Police found weapons, including the AR-556 and an unfired handgun, and tactical body armor at the scene, according to the affidavit.

In addition to Fountain and Talley, Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65, were killed in the shooting.

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