Lawsuit filed against Gander Mountain in connection with West Webster tragedy

Updated: 05/20/2014 8:13 PM
Created: 05/20/2014 12:42 PM WHEC.com

A day after she was sentenced to prison on her state conviction, the lawyer for Dawn Nguyen says they are talking about a possible plea deal on her federal charge.

Nguyen is serving up to four years in state prison in connection with the Christmas Eve shootings and murders of the West Webster volunteer firefighters. Her plea in federal court could happen when she’s scheduled to be in court Friday.

On top of this, Nguyen is getting sued by the families of the firefighters. They are also suing Gander Mountain where the guns were purchased. Those guns used to kill firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka. Firefighters Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were wounded.

Four years ago, Dawn Nguyen walked into the Gander Mountain store in Henrietta with William Spengler, signed paperwork to buy two guns and then police say she handed the guns to Spengler. The lawsuit says Gander Mountain knew or should have known what they were up to.

Michael Schissel, plaintiff's attorney, said, “As alleged in the complaint, the details in this case scream straw sale.”

A straw sale is when a person buys guns for someone who isn’t allowed to have them. That’s what Dawn Nguyen did for William Spengler, who was already a convicted felon for killing his grandmother. But how was the store and the clerk supposed to know that? The lawyers say the red flags were everywhere.

 Schissel, plaintiff's attorney, said, “Spengler picked out the guns, but Nguyen filled out the federal forms. They purchased multiple weapons in a single sale and they paid cash. It was shouting illegal sale and proper training would have stopped that sale.”

The lawsuit says the sale could have been prevented and that's what the firefighters and their families say in their statement read by their lawyer.

 Schissel said, “When sellers of guns fall short in that responsibility, they should be held accountable. We bring this case with the hope that something positive will come of this tragedy, that through legal action, we can help prevent other families from suffering a similar fate.”

Gander Mountain was sued for a mass murder in Binghamton, but the lawsuit was thrown out by a federal court last year.

Gander Mountain first heard of the lawsuit when News10NBC contacted them Tuesday. They released an official statement in response to the suit:

The men and women of Gander Mountain continue to express deepest sympathies for the victims of the tragedy, and for their families.

Gander Mountain has been forthcoming, cooperative and helpful in the investigation of these crimes. Store records and law enforcement have confirmed that the firearms in question were purchased with all proper documentation and in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations.

The individual who purchased the firearms intentionally deceived Gander Mountain, was tried for her crimes, was convicted and is currently serving a significant prison term.

Gander Mountain, as a member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is renowned for its commitment to safety, its respect for the law and its good standing in the outdoor sporting community. We will vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

News10NBC/WHEC-TV welcomes your opinion and interaction on our website, but please remember to keep it clean. If you're advertising for another business, being profane, vulgar or slanderous your post will be deleted. By commenting on this website, you agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Use. Comments are not pre-screened before they posted.


Scattered Clouds
61° | 40°
  • Feels like: 63° F
  • Wind: NW 13mph
  • Humidity: 45%
  • Wed Plenty of sun
    64° | 43°
  • Thu Mix of sun and clouds
    62° | 42°
  • Fri Plenty of sun
    57° | 45°
  • Sat Sunny
    65° | 44°