The widow of slain Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox is suing the Montgomery County gun dealer who sold the gun that wound up being used to kill her husband in 2012.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the suit Monday on behalf of Lynsay Fox, claiming that In Site Firearms and its owner, a former police officer, are responsible for Fox’s death because the gun used to kill Fox was sold to a straw purchaser -- someone who buys a gun for a person who can’t purchase one themselves.
In this case, the straw purchaser, Michael Henry bought the gun for Andrew Charles Thomas, who couldn’t buy a gun on his own because of his criminal record.
"Most gun dealers are responsible business people, but unfortunately a few bad apples endanger our communities by putting profits over the lives of people, and choosing to supply the criminal gun market," said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project. He’s also serving as co-counsel for the officer’s widow. "’Bad apple' gun dealers must be held accountable for their irresponsible sales practices in order to make our communities safer," Lowy said.
Officer Brad Fox was killed -- shot in the head -- while responding to a hit-and-run call on Sept. 13, 2012. Andrew Thomas fled from the accident and Fox chased him along the Schuylkill River Trail. Thomas ambushed both Fox and his K-9 partner, Nick, and shot them both. Thomas then killed himself. The 44-year-old ex-con was on probation for forgery. He was also the No. 1 suspect in the cold case disappearance of his fiancee Maria C. Procopio, who went missing in 1999.
Lydsay Fox called her husband a true hero and her best friend. She read a prepared statement Monday at the news conference announcing the suit, explaining that although she believes in Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens,
"I couldn’t believe what had happened to me and my family. Then I learned about how the killer got his gun. I can’t stand the thought that the person who bought the gun that killed my husband was able to purchase 9 guns total in about 14 weeks---6 of those guns from the store that sold the gun used to kill Brad. The other 8 guns have never been recovered and I can’t bear to think about what those guns are being used for and the other families that may be suffering like mine," Fox said.
In 2013, straw purchaser Michael Henry, who admitted buying the guns, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a minimum of 20 and maximum of 66 years in prison.
Fox, who survived two tours of duty in Iraq, left behind his wife Lynsay and two young children. Lynsay was pregnant with the couple’s second child when he was killed, one day before his 35th birthday.
“It is a testament to Lynsay’s courage and strength that while raising their two kids on her own, she is bringing this lawsuit to prevent other families from suffering as she has,” said Hope S. Freiwald, a partner with Dechert LLP, the Philadelphia firm that is providing pro bono counsel for the case.
K9 Nick survived his injuries and now lives with Fox’s family.
The complaint is the first filed after the Brady Center announced its campaign to stop “bad apple” gun dealers. According to the center, five percent of gun dealers account for nearly all of the nation’s gun crimes.
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We reached out to In Site Firearms, located in Jeffersonville, Pennsylvania and owner Luke Kelly -- who is named in the suit -- and are awaiting a response to the complaint. Kelly is a retired West Norriton police officer.