The parents of 18-year-old Elijah DeWitt, who was gunned down in a mall parking lot on Oct. 5, are suing the mall where he was killed, alleging that its owners failed to address the serious safety risks on the premises.
DeWitt, nicknamed “Eazy E” by NFL star Cam Newton, was a rising high school football star at Georgia’s Jefferson High School.
On his father’s birthday, October 5, DeWitt was waiting outside of a Dave & Buster’s while his girlfriend of four years, Bailey Reidling, went to the bathroom.
While he was waiting, two teenagers approached him and allegedly got into a fight with DeWitt before they shot him dead. Reidling then came out to the parking lot only to find her boyfriend laying in a pool of his own blood.
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Two suspects, 18-year-old Kemare Bryan and 19-year-old Chandler Richardson have been charged with four felonies for the murder of DeWitt.
Both have pled not guilty to the charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
DeWitt’s parents are now seeking compensatory damages on four counts: failure to keep the premises safe; allowing and maintaining a nuisance; voluntary undertaking and negligent hiring, training, supervision, and retention.
The lawsuit names Simon Property Group, Sugarloaf Mills Limited Partnership, Universal Protection Service, the mall’s security director Jason Choy, Dave & Buster’s of Georgia, and five John Does as defendants.
The suit asserts that the Sugarloaf Mills Mall in Lawrenceville, Georgia, was aware of “dangerous and hazardous conditions” and “negligently represented to its invitees that the [premises] were properly maintained and reasonably safe.”
“When businesses know that their property is dangerous… they have two options: one, warn visitors, so they know about the danger and can make an educated decision about whether to go to the property, or two… take reasonable safety measures to protect customers who are unaware of the danger,” the DeWitt family lawyer Michael Rafi said.
“These Defendants did not warn or keep people safe.”
In a statement, DeWitt’s grieving parents, Dawn and Craig DeWitt, said, “This is not the dream we had for our son, instead it has become a daily nightmare that we are unable to wake up from. We are constantly reminded of the opportunities and moments that were taken away from him and sincerely hope that we can use our voices to help bring about some change that will prevent another family from experiencing this in the future.”
Somehow, Dawn and Craig DeWitt have managed to forgive their son’s killers.
“Forgiveness is for the forgive,” Craig said. “We don’t want hate in this household.”