Abdul Aziz and Farah Naz, the parents of a Pakistani exchange student murdered during a school shooting in Texas, have filed a lawsuit against the parents of the suspects. Sabika Sheikh, 17, was one of 10 persons killed in May at the high school in Santa Fe, Texas, allegedly by 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis. Sheikh’s parents filed suit against Pagourtzis’s parents, and alleged that the immigrant couple “negligently and irresponsibly stored their firearms so their son could access them.”
According to documents filed with the court, Pagourtzis’s parents ignored signs that their son posed a risk to others. The lawsuit claims that Pagourtzis was fascinated by the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, during which two high school students shot their classmates to death. Mother Rose Maria Kosmetatos and father Antonios Pagourtzis live and work in Texas. Both are immigrants from Greece.
Parents Aziz and Naz are represented by lawyers for Everytown for Gun Safety, which has already filed a lawsuit in Galveston against the Pagourtzis family on behalf of another victim's parents. Everytown for Gun Safety receives funding from Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Republican mayor of New York City.
“Like all gun owners, gun-owning parents have a responsibility to securely store their firearms,” said Molly Thomas-Jensen of Everytown for Gun Safety. “What happened at Santa Fe High School is a tragic reminder of why responsible gun storage is so critical. We’ll do all we can to deliver some measure of justice for Sabika’s family — and to prevent future tragedies by highlighting the deadly risks of irresponsible gun storage.”
Rose Maria Kosmetatos and Antonios Pagourtzis
Sheikh was a participant in the Youth Exchange and Study program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department to provide scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the U.S. as exchange students. “No other parent should ever have to experience this unbearable grief,” said Aziz and Naz in a statement. “Sabika's picture is in front of our eyes every single moment, and her voice and laughter echo in our ears."
"For a mother and a father, this trauma and mourning stay until their last breath. We are grateful to everyone in the U.S. and around the world who met us in person and reached us through emails, print, electronic and social media to express solidarity and empower us to endure this most profound tragedy," they said.
On May 18, 10 people died and 13 were injured in the shooting allegedly unleashed by Pagourtzis in a classroom. According to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, police later found Pagoutzis’s journal entries and social media posts that referenced violent acts and plans to commit an attack. Pagourtzis is in jail and charged with capital murder.
Police found Pagourtzis's journal entries and social media posts referencing violence and the desire to commit an attack, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a news conference after the tragedy that the suspect used guns belonging to his father that had been purchased legally. "Your children and anyone else should not be able to get your legally owned guns,” said Patrick while calling on parents to lock up their guns. Gov. Abbott said: “Neither of these weapons were owned or legally possessed by the shooter.” Saying that the suspect's father was the legal owner of the shotgun and pistol used by the alleged perpetrator, Abbott said, “I have no information if the father was aware the son had taken these weapons.”