The parents of 19-year-old former Fresno State student Brant Daniels, who was killed in a shooting at University Village on May 7, 2007, and three former University Village residents who were victims of the shooting are suing the owners of the apartment complex and shooter Jonquel Brooks.
The lawsuit alleges that apartment owners knew Brooks, 19, had a history of violence, theft and selling drugs.
By Kelly Lucus and Joanne Lui
Lorna and Alan Daniels, along with Drew Pfeiff, 22, Kody Shiflett, 19, and Roderick Buycks, 20, filed a lawsuit last week at the Fresno Superior Court, claiming that the staff of University Village knew that Brooks was selling marijuana from his apartment, had been in a fight with a former roommate, owned a handgun and stole property from other residences. However, Brooks was not evicted from the property.
â€œI feel that under California law, the owners of University Village are going to be held responsible,â€ said Charles Kelly, the San Francisco-based attorney for the victims. â€œWe believe the shooting could have been prevented if University Village had taken very basic steps.â€
American Campus Communities Services, Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, owns University Village. The lawsuit states that the University Village staff did nothing to resolve the ongoing nuisance or warn other tenants of the possible threat. Kelly said that Tiffanie Black, the University Village manager who Buycks complained to about Brooks, has since moved on to an apartment complex in Texas.
â€œIt is the propertyâ€™s policy generally to not comment on ongoing litigation,â€ according to a statement from University Village. â€œThe property does, however, intend to respond to the lawsuit and defend itself against what it believes are unwarranted allegations.â€
Brooks had been assigned to a new apartment after having trouble with his previous roommates in 2006, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the staffers knew that he had bragged about his handgun, saying â€œThe .22 is a perfect murder weapon because the way the bullets bounce around in your body.â€
On May 7, 2007, Daniels and the three other victims went to get a PlayStation 2 back from Brooks that they claim he had stolen, according to police.
They said Brooks then shot Buycks in the neck and proceeded to fire shots into Danielsâ€™ chest. The four men ran from the apartment but Brooks kept firing at them and shot Pfeiff in the shoulder.
Brooks, who is still awaiting trial for the murder of Daniels, plead not guilty in May 2007 to the charges. He also faces three charges of attempted murder.
Kelly said that his clients filed the lawsuit not only for monetary damages, but to send a message to university apartment managers.
â€œI think that what they would like to see come out of this trial is better security measures,â€ he said.