Family That Took In Future MSD Killer Dismissed From Lawsuit - NBC 6 South Florida
Parkland School Tragedy

Parkland School Tragedy

Marking One Year Since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

Family That Took In Future MSD Killer Dismissed From Lawsuit

There is no evidence the Sneads knew what Nikolas Cruz was plotting, but they have been sued by the families of victims

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    Family That Took In Future MSD Killer Dismissed From Lawsuit

    There is no evidence James and Kimberly Snead knew what Nikolas Cruz was plotting, but they have been sued by the families of victims, who allege they were negligent by not preventing the killer from using the firearm to kill.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019)

    James and Kimberly Snead just wanted to help.

    Their son's friend had lost his mother a month earlier, then was kicked out of a family friend's home.

    On the verge of homelessness, the 19-year-old was welcomed into their home with certain conditions: he would work, get back into school, get counseling and lock his firearms up in a gun safe.

    Eleven weeks later, the houseguest left their home in an Uber with his AR-15 and massacred 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

    There is no evidence the Sneads knew what Nikolas Cruz was plotting, but they have been sued by the families of victims, who allege they were negligent by not preventing the killer from using the firearm to kill.

    On Thursday, a Broward County circuit judge dismissed the Sneads from one of those lawsuits, filed by the parents of Meadow Pollack, a senior who was one of the last killed on February 14, 2018.

    Judge Patti Englander Henning said the allegation in the complaint needed to be more specific, as to what each of the Sneads knew is alleged to have done or not done, and that the complaint needed to more clearly state the law it was relying on.

    "There are not facts alleged in here today to allow this complaint to move forward as to these two defendants," she ruled, giving the plaintiffs 20 days in which to amend and re-file their suit.

    Proving the facts was not at issue legally Thursday – the motion to dismiss involves only the allegations – the Sneads' attorney James Lewis argued the lawsuit only seeks to punish them for doing a good deed.

    "If somehow these good people were found to be liable because they took this troubled kid and gave him a home for what he went out and did, then what does that tell us in terms of how we're going to treat our neighbors when they're down?" Lewis argued. "For this act of kindness, they find themselves here, they find themselves expected to foresee the unforeseeable."

    But the Pollacks' attorney said in an interview there a limits to what a Good Samaritan can do without facing legal liability.

    "When you do something to help someone else, it's not a free ticket to do it however you want, even in an unreasonable way," said David Brill.

    "The Sneads say you can come live with us, we'll give you a home, we'll get you psychological counseling. But you got to lock up that rifle and you can't have access to it in our house," Brill continued, saying he did not yet know how Cruz got access to the weapon.

    "But plainly the fact that it did happen means they did not exercise the reasonable care that's required of them," Brill said.

    Brill said the complaint would be amended and re-filed against the Sneads.

    "They can change the words; they can't change the facts," Lewis said. "And the facts are these folks did nothing wrong. They tried to be good people in the community. Their son had a friend who needed help. They gave him shelter and they gave him food and now to try to make them legally responsible for what he went out and did on his own with his own guns, it's just not right."

    Instead, Lewis pointed to others being sued by the Pollacks and other families - the Broward Sheriff's Office and the school board – and mentioned the FBI, which failed to follow up on explicit tips that Cruz was an aspiring school shooter.

    After court, James Snead said, "There's nothing I can say to express my sorrow for these families, but I didn't do anything wrong. My family...did nothing wrong."

    And his wife, Kimberly, added, "We just tried to help my son's friend, which we would have done to any of his other friends as well. We didn't know he had that background or we certainly wouldn't have let him in the house, had we knew."

    And the result?

    "Here we are. Here we are," she said, the resignation clear in her voice.

    "We've had to move. We're not in the area anymore. It's affected all our lives, our whole lives. Our son had to be withdrawn from school away from his friends," James Snead said.

    Like so many in Parkland, their lives upended by evil.

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