New Hope Police Officers, Families Bring First-Ever Minnesota Suit Against Gun Dealer That Sold Gun Used By City Hall Shooter

March 7, 2017

Police Officers Were Shot, Injured in January 2015 Incident At New Hope City Hall

(MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MARCH 7, 2017) Together with their spouses, New Hope Police Officers Beau Schoenhard and Joshua Eernisse today brought suit against Full Metal Gun Shop and its owner Troy Buchholz. The lawsuit alleges that the gun dealer negligently sold a firearm in a straw purchase that was then used by a prohibited, dangerous person in an attack in New Hope’s City Hall. The lawsuit is the first of its kind filed in Minnesota.

Officers Schoenhard and Eernisse were injured when New Hope resident Ray Kmetz entered City Hall with an illegally purchased shot gun. Kmetz had a long history of contentious contact with New Hope police and government officials and was barred under federal and state law from possessing a gun as a result of his previous commitments at mental hospitals. Both police officers required numerous surgeries and medical procedures after the shooting.

The shooting at City Hall occurred as the New Hope City Council was in session and as an event honoring police officers was being held. Officers Schoenhard and Eernisse were injured in front of their wives, family and friends.

Brady Center Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy, co-counsel for the officers, said: “It is an honor to represent these brave officers who risked their lives to protect their community, and are now taking a stand to stop gun shops from supplying dangerous people with guns. While the majority of gun dealers take the responsibilities seriously, we must hold those accountable who choose to engage in irresponsible business practices that arm dangerous people. This lawsuit sends a message to gun dealers that there is a human cost to irresponsible sales practices, and they should not be allowed to profit off of putting guns into hands of dangerous people.”

Philip Sieff, of Robins Kaplan LLP’s Personal Injury Practice and a lawyer for the family, said: “We look forward to proving that the shooting of Officers Schoenhard and Eernisse could have been prevented if a gun dealer acted responsibly and reasonably. The survivors and their families have chosen to courageously stand up against the negligent gun dealer to ensure that other families don’t have to endure the physical and emotional repercussions they have withstood.”

The officers are represented pro bono by Philip Sieff and Chris Messerly of Robins Kaplan LLP, and Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project. Attorneys Sieff and Messerly previously represented survivors of the 35-W bridge collapse on a pro bono basis. Robin Kaplan is a national law firm headquartered in Minneapolis. The suit was filed in Hennepin County District Court.

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