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Publisher of Call of Duty, maker of AR-15 style rifle and Meta named in wrongful death lawsuits by families of Uvalde victims

<i>Jae C. Hong/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Flowers are piled around crosses with the names of the victims killed in a school shooting as people visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to pay their respects May 31
Jae C. Hong/AP via CNN Newsource
Flowers are piled around crosses with the names of the victims killed in a school shooting as people visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to pay their respects May 31

By Michelle Watson, CNN

(CNN) — Three companies are facing wrongful death lawsuits in the Uvalde school shooting of 2022, according to complaints filed in California and Texas.

The suits, which accuse the companies of “grooming” the Robb Elementary School shooter, come after 19 families of students and teachers killed at the school announced on Wednesday that they settled a lawsuit with the city for $2 million.

The companies – Meta, Activision and Daniel Defense – all contributed to the behavior of the shooter Salvador Ramos in one way or another, the suits allege.

Ramos downloaded the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” in November 2021, according to the complaint filed in California against the publisher of the game, Activision, Meta, and others.

The game featured a weapon from Daniel Defense called the DDM4 V7, which served as “a teaser for players eager to try out the weapon,” the suit alleges.

At the same time, Ramos “was being courted through explicit, aggressive marketing,” on Instagram, the suit said. Meta is the parent company of Instagram.

“In addition to hundreds of images depicting and glorifying the thrill of combat, Daniel Defense used Instagram to extol the illegal, murderous use of its weapons,” the suit said. “Within weeks of downloading Modern Warfare, the Shooter was browsing assault weapons, acquiring firearm attachments popularized by the game, and returning repeatedly to Daniel Defense’s website.”

“Mere minutes after midnight on May 16—the Shooter’s 18th birthday—he purchased a DDM4V7,” the suit said. “Eight days later, the Shooter inflicted unspeakable violence at Robb Elementary School, killing 21 and injuring and traumatizing many more.”

Investigators in the Uvalde shooting found one of Ramos’ AR15-style rifles, manufactured by Daniel Defense, in the school, according to then-Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, who is now the mayor of Houston.

“The Defendants bear responsibility for this profound corruption of our children,” the suit filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles says. “In concert with certain firearm manufacturers, they have groomed a generation of young men who are socially vulnerable, insecure about their masculinity, and eager to show strength and assert dominance.”

According to the suit filed in Uvalde, Texas District Court, Daniel Defense courts adolescents by harnessing and exploiting “the power of social media and first-person shooter simulations to lure teenagers to its website where it can monitor their online activity, build a profile of their interests, and solicit their contact information.”

In a statement, Josh Koskoff, a partner at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder and an attorney for the families said: “There is a direct line between the conduct of these companies and the Uvalde shooting. Just 23 minutes after midnight on his 18th birthday, the Uvalde shooter bought an AR-15 made by a company with a market share of less than one percent. Why? Because, well before he was old enough to purchase it, he was targeted and cultivated online by Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense. This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems and trained him to use it.”

A company spokesperson for Activision said in a statement to CNN Friday: “The Uvalde shooting was horrendous and heartbreaking in every way, and we express our deepest sympathies to the families and communities who remain impacted by this senseless act of violence. Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts.”

CNN has reached out to Meta and Daniel Defense for comment.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz and Samantha Delouya contributed to this alert

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