Victims of the July 2022 shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall are suing Indianapolis-based shopping center owner Simon Property Group and its security company, alleging that the shooting that left three people dead and others injured was foreseeable and could have been prevented had proper security protocols been followed.
The lawsuit is the first victim lawsuit related to the shooting, according to Cohen & Malad LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs. It was filed Tuesday in Marion Superior Court.
“Given the prevalence of mass shootings in numerous malls across America, it was foreseeable to defendants Simons and Allied that something catastrophic could likely occur,” the law firm said in a news release announcing the complaint. “The complaint alleges that if the dozens of video feeds throughout the parking lot and mall were adequately staffed and/or all the cameras (were) working properly, and/or if the food court had been appropriately monitored by security personnel, this incident should have been preventable.”
The plaintiffs include Kaya Stewart, who was among those shot by Jonathan Douglas Sapirman on July 17, 2022, in the mall’s food court. Stewart survived her injuries, which are described in the complaint as “severe.”
Three victims were killed in the shooting—married couple Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, and Victor Gomez, 30. The gunman, Sapirman, was shot by an armed bystander, Elisjsha Dicken.
The additional plaintiffs include O.S., Kaya Stewart’s minor sister who was shot at, and Eumeka Stewart and Samuel Stewart III, the girls’ parents.
According to the complaint, Kaya and O.S. were in the food court when Sapirman opened fire at 5:56 p.m. on July 17. He was armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle and fired 24 times in 15 seconds, according to The Associated Press.
Kaya was shot while seated at a table, the complaint says. O.S. ran when she saw that her sister had been shot, and Sapirman shot at her, as well. While O.S. was not struck, the packages she was carrying were.
Meanwhile, Eumeka, the girls’ mother, was walking toward the food court to meet up with her daughters when shots rang out, according to the complaint. The crowd was running toward her to exit the mall, so she turned and ran to her car.
Eumeka then pulled up to the entrance of the nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods with her son in the car. She saw emergency personnel arrive, and a first responder told her that Kaya had been shot, although her condition was unknown.
Later, according to the complaint, Eumeka saw Kaya being brought out on a stretcher, her condition still unknown.
As for Sapirman, the complaint says he entered the mall at 4:54 p.m. “carrying a long, black backpack consistent with those used to tote rifles and other assault weapons.” He then entered a restroom near the food court, where he stayed for more than an hour.
While in a stall, the complaint says, Sapirman “donned an ammunition vest and assembled several weapons which he intended to use to carry out a mass shooting, including a Sig Sauer model 400M rifle, a Smith and Wesson M&P15 rifle, and a Glock model 33 handgun, six fully loaded 5.56 magazines and two Glock 33 magazines. He also attempted to flush his cell phone down the toilet.”
There were no security personnel in the food court at the time of the shooting, the complaint says, and the men’s restroom was not checked in the hour that Sapirman was inside.
“Upon information and belief, despite the fact that the food court area of the Mall was crowded with shoppers at the time of the shooting, at least one security guard had left the Mall through an exit near the food court just minutes before the Assailant exited the restroom and began firing, and an hour before the mall was scheduled to close,” the complaint claims. “A guard’s presence in the parking lot, mall corridors, food court, and/or restroom, if noticed by the shooter, may have deterred the Assailant from carrying out the shooting.”
It continues, “The Defendants knew or should have known that the only way to prevent multiple deaths and serious injuries when an Assailant such as this one fires into a crowd with a semi-automatic rifle is to take reasonable steps to prevent these shootings from occurring in the first place.”
The plaintiffs are raising claims of premises liability against Simon and negligence, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress against both defendants.
They are seeking damages including but not limited to past and future economic damages, including by not limited to medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, as well as non-economic damages including but not limited to bodily injury of a serious and permanent nature, pain and suffering, permanent physical disability, inconvenience, emotional stress, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, impairment of the quality of life, and “any and all other consequential losses arising from the Defendants’ wrongful conduct as provided by law.”
“Upon information and belief, Simon’s security resources are not dedicated to proactively detecting suspicious activity, firearms, and other prohibited weapons of that nature that could harm its invitees and others despite Simon’s express prohibition of firearms,” the complaint alleges. “Likewise, prior to July 17, 2022, Simon did not update its security policies, procedures or safeguards to reflect and/or be commensurate with the growing prevalence of threats of violence and mass shootings in our society.
“It was foreseeable to Simon and Allied that something catastrophic and/or similar to this shooting could occur, particularly because the Assailant was seen, or should have been seen, walking through the parking lot of the mall, into the mall, and into a restroom near the food court while carrying a heavy, long black backpack, then remaining in that restroom for more than an hour while he prepared to shoot innocent patrons,” the complaint continues. “It was foreseeable to Simon and Allied on July 17, 2022, that this particular perpetrator—given his age, appearance, behavior, and because of the unique backpack he was carrying—all fit the well-recognized profile of a potential mass shooter.”
Indiana Lawyer has reached out to Simon and Allied for comment.