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Old National Bank shooting victims’ families and survivors sue Louisville gun store

Karen Tutt speaks at a podium in front of pictures of victims of the Old National Bank mass shooting.
Giselle Rhoden
/
LPM
Karen Tutt's husband James Tutt was among the five people killed in the mass shooting at Old National Bank last April.

Survivors and families of victims of the Old National Bank mass shooting last April are suing River City Firearms for selling the shooter an AR-15 and ignoring his behavior at the time of purchase.

On April 10, 2023, Connor Sturgeon used an AR-15 to kill five people and injure eight others at the Old National Bank in downtown Louisville. Survivors and families of those who died are now suing River City Firearms, the retailer that sold Sturgeon the rifle six days before the shooting.

In a news conference Tuesday, attorneys for the plaintiffs said River City Firearms was negligent in selling the gun and for ignoring “red flags” presented by Sturgeon at the store.

Romanucci & Blandin LLC, Everytown Law and Thomas Law Offices are representing the plaintiffs.

According to the written complaint filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, a witness inside the store claimed Sturgeon came in with his head bowed and spoke quietly with little eye contact.

“He demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge or experience with firearms,” the complaint said.

The complaint said an AR-15 is “poorly suited” for someone with little knowledge of firearms.

River City Firearms also sold Sturgeon accessories including “three additional 30-round magazines, a red-dot sight to increase the accuracy of his aim and a vertical grip for greater control over the weapon,” according to a news release announcing the lawsuit.

Sturgeon later wrote in his journal about how easy it was for him to purchase the weapon and his declining mental health, according to LMPD.

Alla Lefkowitz, senior director of affirmative litigation at Everytown Law, said the gun retailer should have never allowed the sale under federal regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“[Sturgeon’s behaviors] are all indicators that federally licensed firearms dealers are trained to be on the lookout for, just as pharmacists are trained to look for suspicious behavior when selling Sudafed, or doctors are trained when prescribing pain medication. Their professional responsibilities require it,” she said at the news conference.

Karen Tutt, whose husband James died in the shooting, is a plaintiff in the civil suit, joining the family of Joshua Barrick and survivors Julie Anderson, Jimmy Evans, Dana Mitchell and Stephanie “Dallas” Schwartz.

“The gun industry cannot be allowed to escape the moral and social responsibility that is crucial in the commerce of a product with such weighty responsibilities [of] life and death,” Tutt said.

The families of Tommy Elliot and Juliana Farmer, who died in the shooting, are planning to file a similar lawsuit against River City Firearms.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.