Survivors of a father and daughter shot to death by a disturbed neighbor in a cape and helmet who later turned his gun on himself are suing the killer’s family, the dealer who sold him the weapon and a support group.
Vernon Smith, 45, and his daughter Christina, 22, were killed on Oct. 29, 2005, when 19-year-old William Freund burst into their house with a 12-gauge shotgun, authorities said.
Vernon Smith’s son Brandon, who escaped, and his wife Denise, who was at work during the shooting, filed suit this week in Orange County Superior Court seeking damages for wrongful death and emotional distress.
The lawsuit claims Freund’s parents allowed their son to have a gun, failed to supervise him and failed to warn neighbors about his potentially violent personality.
The suit contains similar accusations about WrongPlanet.net, a Web site for people with Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by poor communication and social skills. Freund, who suffered from the disorder, left a message at the site saying he planned to “Start a Terror Campaign to hurt those that have hurt me.”
Freund’s parents and WrongPlanet founder Alexander Plank declined to comment. Plank said last year that moderators attempted but failed to contact Freund’s parents.
George Hueneman, owner of Saddleback Valley Gun Center, said Freund’s background check for purchasing a gun came up clean. “How am I supposed to know that he was a mentally disturbed teenager who was on prescription medication?”