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Henderson gun maker entangled in wrongful death suit

Updated June 28, 2019 - 10:57 pm

A Kansas City couple have accused a Henderson firearms manufacturer of participating in and profiting from a trafficking scheme that supplied the gun used in their son’s 2016 killing.

Their wrongful death lawsuit, filed Monday in a Missouri court, alleges the Henderson company, Jimenez Arms, either knew or ignored signs it was supplying an unlicensed gun dealer with its products. The alleged dealer, James Samuels, who was named in the lawsuit, also faces federal criminal charges related to gun trafficking.

A Jimenez Arms pistol Samuels purchased from another dealer, Green Tip Arms, was used to kill the couple’s son, 29-year-old Alvino Dwight Crawford, according to the lawsuit. Green Tip Arms is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

“We don’t want any other family to go through what we’ve been through,” the Crawfords said in a statement. “That’s why it is really important for gun dealers and others to pause before they sell a gun and think about the impact of placing a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.”

Jimenez Arms did not return two phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

The lawsuit alleges that Samuels would buy guns either directly from Jimenez Arms or through a licensed firearms dealer and funnel them to people who could not legally possess the weapons.

“Jimenez Arms’ actions were instrumental in helping to establish and supply the trafficking scheme,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit accuses the gun manufacturer of negligence, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and public nuisance. The parents seek more than $25,000 and court orders requiring the manufacturer to submit to five years of supervision and requiring its sales employees to go through training.

Conspiracy allegations

According to the lawsuit, Jimenez Arms sold guns to Samuels from 2013 to 2015.

During a 2018 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation into Samuels, a Jimenez Arms employee told the federal agency that, when Samuels began buying guns, he said he worked part time at a federally licensed gun store in the Kansas City area.

The employee told investigators she confirmed with the company that Samuels could order guns and have them shipped to the store. The company, however, was unable to do business in the state, the lawsuit said.

Jimenez Arms also shipped guns to Samuels’ home, according to the lawsuit.

“Jimenez Arms represented to the ATF that it had been advised that (the gun store) had changed its address,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer did not use an online verification system to check the address change because it knew the guns were going to Samuels for trafficking.

Samuels later placed another order that he said would go through a different licensed seller in the Kansas City area, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said that a Jimenez Arms employee told the ATF in 2018 that they called the dealer and were told that Samuels already had buyers lined up for the guns.

“In other words, by Jimenez Arms’ own admission, the company was explicitly told that Samuels, who was not a licensed seller, was buying guns for the purpose of re-sale,” the lawsuit said.

Jimenez Arms shipped the guns to the store, which returned them, according to the lawsuit. The store told the gun-maker that Samuels was not authorized to buy the guns, which, according to the lawsuit, was “a fact that Jimenez Arms either knew prior to the delivery or would have known had it taken even the most basic steps to comply with federal firearms laws.”

An employee of the manufacturer told the ATF that she called Samuels to ask how he was conducting business, and he explained that he would ship the guns to a licensed store and have his own customers purchase them legally.

Jimenez Arms on multiple occasions told federal agents that it did not sell weapons to unlicensed dealers.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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