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Families of slain UCSB students file lawsuit against county, apartment

Jordan Bell

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by two Los Angeles-based law firms on Monday against several parties associated with the mass killings in Isla Vista last spring. 

The suit names the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the Capri Apartments in Isla Vista on behalf of the parents of three men, David Wang, James Hong and George Chen, killed in the Capri Apartments last May.

The lawsuit says the Sheriff's Department violated their sons' constitutional rights of equal protection, and that management at the apartments was negligent. A company named Asset Campus Housing was named as that management firm.

Patrick McNicholas is an attorney representing the families.  He said that the conduct of the killer was preventable and the men would not have been killed, but for the conduct of the Sheriff's Department. 

"The Sheriff's [Department] actually increased the danger to these boys, that they were in a position when the welfare check was performed on April 30th and based on their conduct before and during the welfare check that they were returned to the apartment which had now become increasingly dangerous from their position of safety," said McNicholas. 

McNicholas said that there were two prior law enforcement contacts with the killer that authorities should have considered during the welfare check.

As for the portion of the lawsuit aimed at Asset Campus Housing, McNicholas said that the negligence claim against the apartments is based on a pattern and red flags.

Spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Kelly Hoover said in an email, "The Sheriff’s Office cannot comment on a matter of pending litigation, and anything we might say in response would be insufficient when measured against the grief suffered by the families of those killed so tragically on May 23, 2014. Nevertheless, we continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers, and to extend our deepest sympathies to them."

KCBX reached out to Asset Campus Housing and the Capri Apartments, but has yet to receive a response regarding this lawsuit.

McNicholas said the families asked that the law firms bring the lawsuit in order to further the conversation about school violence.