Couples sue pawn shop that sold gun used in bar shooting

By Kelly Holleran | May 25, 2010

MARTINSBURG -- Four couples have filed suit against the pawn shop that they claim sold a hand gun to a convicted felon, who later used the gun in a shooting spree at a bar.

Richard Bannerman, Jesse Bryan, Shawn Foster and William Gardner were staying at the Quality Inn and Conference Center on Dec. 2, 2006. The hotel is located in Jefferson County near the town of Bolivar, according to the complaint filed April 16 in U.S. District Court.

That evening, the four men decided to enter the bar or tavern located on the Quality Inn's premises, the suit states. Suddenly, at about 9:30 p.m., James R. Jones entered the tavern area, holding a hand gun that he randomly began firing at the bartender and the tavern's guests, the complaint says.

Bannerman and Foster suffered from gunshot wounds while Gardner suffered a head injury after he was struck in the left temple with the gun, the plaintiffs say. The bartender, who is not named in the suit, died, according to the complaint.

The incident never should have occurred because Jones was previously convicted of a robbery in Frederick County Circuit Court on Dec. 31, 2000, the suit states.

"On September 27, 2005, Defendant, Mountain State, sold to James R. Jones a Hi-Point Luger 9mm semi-automatic handgun," the complaint says. "Defendant Mountain State, by its agent and employee, sold the hand gun to Jones, either knowing, failing, or refusing to discover that Jones was a convicted felon and therefore was ineligible and not permitted to purchase such handgun, or any firearm."

Because of the incident, Bannerman and Foster incurred medical costs and lost wages. The men's wives -– Tricia Bannerman, Pamela Bryan, Melissa Foster and Shellie Gardner -– suffered a loss of society, companionship, consortium and their husbands' services, according to the complaint.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified judgment, plus costs.

Paul G. Taylor of the Law Offices of Paul G. Taylor in Martinsburg will be representing them.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:10-cv-46

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