The parents of a 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed at Great Mills High School by her ex-boyfriend have filed a lawsuit, claiming the Maryland district failed to protect their daughter.
Jaelynn Willey and 14-year-old Desmond Barnes were shot by 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins before classes started on March 20, 2018. Barnes survived but Willey died two days later after being taken off life support.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Friday against St. Mary’s County school system by Melissa and Daniel Willey, claims the district should have done more to protect Willey and other students, reports The Baltimore Sun.
“In this matter, there were warning signs the school chose to ignore and the family seeks to hold the school responsible for this failure on behalf of their daughter,” said Lauren Geisser, a lawyer for the Willey family.
After Willey broke up with Rollins, he stalked her during school, including texting her friends and waiting for her outside her classrooms and her car. The school should have foreseen that Rollins “would continue his attacks and would increase or escalate his violence,” reads the lawsuit.
Rollins also repeatedly grabbed, pushed and yelled at Willey in front of school personnel in the two months prior to her death, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claims the family reported his behavior to their daughter’s swim coach, indicating they were afraid for her safety.
The lawsuit contends the school system did not take the proper steps to prevent violence, such as using handheld metal detectors on students, hiring enough school resource officers, or disciplining Rollins, who had a “significant history of violence,” including threats to shoot a gun inside the school.
The lawsuit also further alleges a threat of school violence was made a month before the shooting and the school only put additional security in place for that day. It did not specify who made the threat, according to WTOP.
Additionally, less than 24 hours before the shooting that killed Willey, another threat of mass violence was made. The school had surveillance cameras and metal detector wands but did not use them following the incident, the lawsuit says.
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