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Relatives sue store that sold bullets used in 3 killings

Relatives of one of three people shot to death in Springfield in 2018 are suing Academy Sports and Outdoors for selling bullets to a woman who gave them to the man charged in the killings.

The lawsuit alleges a worker at Academy Sports in Springfield should have realized the woman who bought the bullets, Nyadia Burden, intended to give them to Luis Perez. The 24-year-old Perez couldn’t buy ammunition because he was in the country illegally, had no driver’s license and was facing felony charges, according to police. The lawsuit also names Burden.

Perez is facing the death penalty in the Oct. 31, 2018, deaths of his ex-roommates, 38-year-old Steven Marler and 23-year-old Aaron “Josh” Hampton, and the wounding of two others. Prosecutors allege he fatally shot Sabrina Starr, 21, the next day. She had provided him with the gun he used, police said.

The lawsuit alleges that Perez, Burden and Aaron Anderson went to Academy Sports after a Walmart worker refused to sell them bullets.

The lawsuit contends Academy employees did not try to determine whether Perez was legally able to buy ammunition, even though it was clear that Perez and Burden were together, The Springfield News-Leader reported. He handed her the box of bullets and gave her $20 to pay.

A spokeswoman for Texas-based Academy Sports did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Federal immigration authorities said in 2018 that Perez  should have faced deportation  proceedings after a previous arrest in Middlesex County, New Jersey, but he was released because the Immigration and Customs Enforcement request didn’t meet the county’s required criteria.

Perez was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Anderson was charged with being an accessory to first-degree murder and Burden pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

The lawsuit was filed May 1 on behalf of Hampton’s parents and son. The relatives are asking for compensation for pain and suffering and for costs such as funeral expenses.

Hampton’s family’s attorney, Craig Heidemann, said the family respects people’s right to bear arms but wants to encourage firearm dealers to obey regulations designed to keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands.

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