Families of Uvalde shooting victims sue Meta, video game company and gun manufacturer – CBS News

Exactly two years after the Uvalde school massacre, families of victims Friday filed multiple state lawsuits in California and Texas against social media giant Meta, Activision — the maker of the popular video game “Call of Duty” — and Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-15 which the teen gunman used in the shooting.

The wrongful death lawsuits come just two days after the same group of 19 families reached a $2 million settlement with the city of Uvalde over the May 24, 2022, Robb Elementary School massacre, which killed 19 students and two teachers.

One of the two lawsuits was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against both Activision and Meta – Instagram’s parent company. The second lawsuit, against Daniel Defense, was filed in Uvalde District Court.

The lawsuits were filed by attorney Josh Koskoff, who is also representing the same 19 families who were part of Wednesday’s $2 million settlement.

Friday’s lawsuits claim that Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense have been “partnering…in a scheme that preys upon insecure, adolescent boys,” attorneys said in a news release.

Attorneys claim that Meta and Activision “enabled and emboldened firearm manufacturers’ efforts to expand the market for their weapons by granting unprecedented, direct and 24/7 access to children.”

The lawsuits allege that the gunman, on his 18th birthday, purchased the AR-15 used in the Uvalde shooting because “he was targeted and cultivated online by Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense. This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems and trained him to use it,” Koskoff said in a statement.

According to the lawsuits, the Uvalde gunman downloaded “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” in November 2021, and had been playing previous iterations of “Call of Duty” since he was 15 years old. The video game prominently features a model of the AR-15, known as DDM4V7, that was used in the shooting, the lawsuits allege.

“Simultaneously, on Instagram, the shooter was being courted through explicit, aggressive marketing,” attorneys said. “In addition to hundreds of images depicting and venerating the thrill of combat, Daniel Defense used Instagram to extol the illegal, murderous use of its weapons.”

On April 27, 2022, attorneys say, the gunman created an account with Daniel Defense and added a DDM4V7 to his online cart. Then on May 16, 2022, just 23 minutes after midnight on his 18th birthday, he purchased the weapon — just eight days before the Uvalde shooting.

In an interview with CBS News Friday, Koskoff said that the two lawsuits are “working in concert with each other.”

“Instagram creates a connection between …an adolescent …and the gun and a gun company,” Koskoff said. “And nobody exploited Instagram for this purpose more than Daniel Defense. If Instagram can prevent people from posting pictures of their private parts, they can prevent people from posting pictures of an AR-15. And of course, Instagram doesn’t care. They don’t care. All they care about is driving traffic and generating attention, drawing attention and getting their ad revenue.”

In a statement provided to CBS News, an Activision spokesperson said the “Uvalde shooting was horrendous and heartbreaking in every way, and we express our deepest sympathies to the families and communities who remain impacted by this senseless act of violence. Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts.”

CBS News has also reached out to Meta and Daniel Defense for comment on the litigation.

The same group of families also said Wednesday they are filing a $500 million federal lawsuit against nearly 100 state police officers who took part in the botched law enforcement response to the shooting, along with former Robb Elementary School principal Mandy Gutierrez and Pete Arredondo, the school district’s police chief who was fired months after the shooting.

An extensive 575-page Justice Department report released in January determined there were a series of “cascading failures” in the law enforcement response that day. The report said that 77 minutes elapsed from when law enforcement first arrived on the scene, to when the suspect was confronted and killed.

— Lilia Luciano, Alex Sundby, Melissa Quinn and Andres Triay contributed to this report.

Faris Tanyos is a news editor for CBSNews.com, where he writes and edits stories and tracks breaking news. He previously worked as a digital news producer at several local news stations up and down the West Coast.