A civil lawsuit filed against a Johnstown couple and their son, who went on a shooting spree that killed two people in 2009, will proceed through the judicial system.
Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva ruled this week against a defense request to dismiss the lawsuit. Kopriva said that the suit presents a factual situation which could provide a basis for a jury to find that Daniel and Karen Horner acted with reckless indifference in allowing their son, Nicholas Adam Horner, access to a handgun.
A jury found last year that Nicholas Horner, who was living in Altoona at the time, killed Scott Garlick, 19, of Hollidaysburg, and Raymond Williams, 64, who had recently retired and moved to the Altoona area from his Northern Cambria home. Williams was shot near his home.
Horner, who had been discharged from the Army after serving two tours in Iraq and one in Kuwait, also shot Michele Petty, an employee at the 58th Street Subway, where he gunned down Garlick, a high school senior.
Horner, a 1999 graduate of Conemaugh Valley High School, was convicted in 2012 of two counts of first-degree murder and related charges. He is serving two life sentences plus 29 to 59 years in prison for the shootings.
Petty and her husband, Gerald Petty Jr., filed the civil suit in November.
Michele Petty, who was shot in the pelvis by Horner, testified at the trial nearly a year ago that she received permanent injuries due to Horner’s actions and suffers extensive numbness and other problems.
Hollidaysburg attorney Joseph Nypaver filed the suit on behalf of the Pettys. The suit contends that the Horners allowed their son to possess the .45-caliber handgun owned by his father despite their knowledge that Nicholas suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions resulting from his military service.
“(The Horners) knew or should have known, that their son, in possession of a handgun, would engage in violent behavior,” Nypaver contends in the suit.
Kopriva’s ruling was in response to preliminary objections filed two months ago by John Heslop, who represents the Horners.
The judge gave the defense 20 days to answer the lawsuit.
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