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Family Files Claim in Santee Shooting

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The family of a Santana High School freshman slain during a campus shooting in March has filed a legal claim against the school district.

Citing the “irreplaceable loss of a son, brother and grandchild,” relatives of 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor seek unspecified compensation from the Grossmont Union High School District. The amount sought is listed as “the maximum allowed” under district insurance policies.

The claim, filed this week, does not specify why the school district should be held responsible for the death of Zuckor, one of two students who died when 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams allegedly sprayed bullets from a .22-caliber revolver during a class break at the suburban San Diego school in Santee.

“It is believed theories of negligence and/or strict liability may provide the basis for legal responsibility,” according to the document, which names the boy’s grandfather as claimant.

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It is the first legal action against the Grossmont district stemming from the March 5 attack, which also took the life of 17-year-old Randy Gordon, a senior, and left 13 other people wounded.

The Zuckor family’s attorney, Kenneth C. Hoyt, said he was seeking money for the benefit of the slain boy’s brother and sister.

“The families have consented to my filing this claim with great reluctance. No amount of money could ever be even a remote substitute for Bryan; even the thought sickens every family member,” Hoyt said in a letter to Grossmont officials.

Hoyt declined through a representative Thursday to comment.

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School district attorney Dan Shinoff said the district is the wrong target for legal action.

“This was a terrible tragedy. If you want to look for responsibility, it lies with the young man who decided to bring a gun to school on that particular day,” Shinoff said. “Bringing a lawsuit, or even this tort claim, is equally tragic.”

The district covers itself for the first $100,000 in liability and carries separate insurance for up to $14 million more, Shinoff said.

Williams is charged with murder as an adult under Proposition 21, which allows prosecutors to send juveniles accused of serious crimes directly to Superior Court. The murder trial is on hold until an appellate court can rule on a defense challenge to the state law, passed by voters last year.

Williams’ lawyers say the law is unconstitutional because it strips from judges the power to decide whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult.

Zuckor’s relatives have spoken in favor of prosecuting Williams as an adult. They say handling the case in juvenile court could allow him to go free at age 25 and would send the wrong signal to troubled and violent youths.


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