LAKELAND, Tenn. — For the first time, the families of victims of a shooting at a Sweet 16 party in Lakeland are speaking about that night.
It happened May 27 at a clubhouse in the Oakwood subdivision.
Deputies said four men who weren’t allowed inside might’ve opened fire in the parking lot a short time later. They still haven’t arrested anyone from the May shooting.
Now, the moms of three teenage victims are looking for justice in another way — they filed a lawsuit against the people who threw the party, those who rented the clubhouse and the entire Oakwood Homeowners Association.
The families filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon, saying their biggest issue is there should’ve been more security at this clubhouse.
They all say their sons showed them a flier ahead of time that told people to tell a friend and bring as many as they wanted to the party. They say their sons had friends in common with the birthday girl but had never met her.
They say they’re mainly suing because the party did not provide adequate security as advertised by the invitation flier.
Jessica Hill says her 16-year-old son never even made it in inside. He was shot while he was still sitting in his friends car in the parking lot.
“I thought he’d be protected,” Hill said. “Turns out, that’s not what happened. I got a call at 10:30 at night and his friend called me. He told me he’d been shot and they were going to the Med. It’s the worst imaginable feeling you could ever have. It’s the unknown. It’s still unknown. His healing process is still unknown.”
Of the three victims, her son has the worst injuries. He was shot in the back and still has a bullet lodged in there.
“They all had a responsibility to protect these children in line with what they said they’d do on these fliers,” attorney Chris Campbell said.
All three families are dealing with severe mental trauma as well.
“Just two days ago he slept with us. He came in there because he had a nightmare. He said he had a dream somebody killed him and he was trying to get to his father,” said Sonia, a mother of one of the other boys.
They said their sons didn’t know who shot them.
The lawsuit alleged the people who threw the party should’ve had cameras, stricter security and limitations on the number of people who could come and the type of parties allowed.
Hill said it’s put an emotional and financial strain on her, balancing work with his care and taking care of her other children.
They’re asking for at least $2 million in damages.
We’re working on getting responses from the targets in this lawsuit.