Parents of the teenager accused of killing 10 people and wounding 13 more at Santa Fe High School say they weren’t negligent and did as much as they could for their son, their attorney, Ron Rodgers said.
“In a certain manner of speaking, they lost their son, too,” Rodgers said. “They’re struggling like everyone else on where they go from here.”
Rodgers said he’s trying to clear up “erroneous facts” about his clients propagated in two civil lawsuits, including that the parents didn’t teach their son respect for life and that they had allowed him access to firearms by failing to secure their weapons. But the accused shooter’s father kept his guns locked in a case, Rodgers said.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is accused of killing 10 people inside Santa Fe High School on May 18 in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.
Rodgers, hired about a week ago, filed answers Monday in both civil suits on behalf of Rose Marie Kosmetatos and Antonios Pagourtzis, parents of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, generally denying the assertions.
Meanwhile, attorneys in civil cases against the parents said it’s too early to know all the facts, but at least one said he was more confident in the assertions about the parents than he was on May 18.
“We look forward to presenting our case at trial,” attorney Clint McGuire said. “We are confident in the allegations and claims against the parents.”
But the lawsuits against the parents were filed soon after the shooting, alleging facts nobody really knew at the time, Rodgers said.
“Those aren’t really the facts,” Rodgers said.
McGuire, originally representing Rosie Yanas and Christopher Stone — parents of Christopher Jake Stone, 17 — filed the first lawsuit against the family May 24 in the Galveston County Court at Law No. 3, accusing Pagourtzis’ parents of negligence in failing to teach him respect for life and for allowing him access to firearms.
The suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages and has since grown to include six different parents, according to court documents.
A status conference is set for today in that case and attorneys are hoping to learn more evidence through discovery in the coming weeks, McGuire said.
“The murderer pulled the pistol’s and sawed-off shotgun’s triggers, but also upon them, pressed just as firmly, were the fingers of his parents, who utterly failed to teach their son any respect for life whatsoever,” the lawsuit argues.
The parents “negligently and grossly negligently failed to secure their weapons in a reasonable way and put them directly and proximately into use as authors of community-wide tragedy and incomprehensible loss,” the lawsuit asserts.
But Antonios Pagourtzis did keep his guns locked in a safe, Rodgers said.
“Based on my understanding, he must have taken his father’s keys for the gun cabinet,” Rodgers said.
The family hasn’t been able to see the weapons and can’t confirm whether they were in fact the father’s, Rodgers said.
But Lawrence Tylka, the attorney who filed the second lawsuit against Pagourtzis and his parents, said there are still so many questions surrounding the events of May 18.
“We aren’t trying to cast aspersions about anything as there’s a lot of discovery left to do,” Tylka said. “Their child hasn’t filed an answer to any suit, but the way I read their answer, they’re trying to say they are not responsible for him or his actions. But this is their son and their weapons, used in a manner that is totally inappropriate. It’s their duty to secure them in some manner.”
Tylka filed suit against the parents and the accused shooter Aug. 15 in Galveston County probate court on behalf of the family of Cynthia Tisdale, a substitute teacher and one of 10 people killed during the shooting.
The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages, court records show.
Tylka on Tuesday filed a motion for summary judgment against Dimitrios Pagourtzis, asserting he hadn’t responded to the suit by deadline.