Newton Pawn shop sued over Excel shooting

A national gun control group is suing a Newton pawn shop on behalf of the family of Joshua Higbee, who was murdered in the Excel Industry shooting on Feb. 25 2016.

On that day, a shooter, opened fire on Higbee, of Buhler, and his coworkers, killing three and injuring 14 others.

According to a press release put out by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is filing suit, A Pawn Shop of Newton acted wrongly by transferring the AK-47 Semi Automatic Rifle and a handgun used by the shooter, to his ex-girlfriend Sarah Jo Hopkins who acted as a straw purchaser for the shooter.

The lawsuit alleges that there were indications Hopkins was acting as a straw purchaser, that is, purchasing a gun for someone in violation of Federal law.

“Straw purchases are one of the primary ways that dangerous criminals get guns,” stated the plaintiff’s attorney David Morantz. “Gun dealers serve on the front lines of the battle to deter gun violence. This lawsuit will help ensure that gun dealers adhere to their duty and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

A Pawn Shop was contacted for this story and offered the answer of “no comment” in response to the pending litigation.

In criminal court, following a plea agreement, Hopkins was sentenced to one year of supervised release in connection with providing the shooter with the firearms for the shooting, knowing he was a convicted felon.

She admitted to purchasing the weapons from an out-of-state dealer and redeeming them from A Pawn Shop. She eventually provided the firearms to the shooter.