Newton pawn shop sued over guns used in deadly Excel shooting

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Victims in deadly shooting spree at Excel Industries Victims in deadly shooting spree at Excel Industries
NEWTON, Kan. (KAKE) -

A pawn shop in Newton is being sued for allegedly selling firearms used by a felon to kill three people at Excel Industries two years ago. 

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the suit on behalf of the family of Joshua Higbee. It alleges that A Pawn Shop negligently sold firearms in a "straw purchase," which were then used by Cedric Ford in the workplace shooting on February 25, 2016.

Joshua Higbee was killed when Cedric Ford opened fire on his colleagues at the Excel Industries in Hesston. The workplace shooting occurred during Ford's crime spree that began in Newton. Ford killed three people, including Higbee, and injured 14 others.

A "straw purchase" is when someone buys a gun for someone else, and it is a violation of federal law.

The complaint alleges that A Pawn Shop sold an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle and a Glock semi-automatic handgun to Sarah Jo Hopkins, despite numerous indications that she was acting as a straw purchaser for Ford. The complaint states that Hopkins used Ford's credit card to purchase the guns.

"Joshua was a wonderful man and a wonderful father," said Subrina Luke, Joshua Higbee's wife. "t feels like we lost everything when he was taken from us."

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"Whatever your views are on gun issues, we can all agree that gun dealers have a responsibility to do what they reasonably can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," said Jonathan Lowy, Vice President, Litigation, and co-counsel for the plaintiff at The Brady Center. "When a gun dealer chooses to engage in irresponsible sales practices that arm dangerous people, that dealer should be held accountable."

One of the guns was a semi-automatic rifle similar to the type used by gunmen in recent mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas.

"Straw purchases are one of the primary ways that dangerous criminals get guns," said David Morantz, co-counsel for the plaintiff at Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman. "Gun dealers serve on the front lines of the battle to deter gun violence. This lawsuit will help ensure that gun dealers adhere to their duty and keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

A Pawn Shop is located at 519 North Main Street. 

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