New claims filed over Jan. 10 shootings
A claim filed Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court contends county employees failed to deal with alleged killer Scott Harlan Thorpe’s increasingly psychotic behavior and cache of weapons.
Thorpe is the alleged gunman in the Jan. 10, 2001, shooting rampage against the county’s Department of Behavioral Health Services in Nevada City and Lyon’s Restaurant in Glenbrook Basin.
The complaint for damages was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Paul Nichols Wilcox and Amanda M. Wilcox, and Judith A. and Darrel Edzards. It seeks unspecified monetary damages from defendants Nevada County; George Heitzman; Phyllis Murdock; Benjamin Lopez, a Behavioral Health Services contractor; and Thorpe, the alleged gunman.
The Wilcoxes are the parents of slain receptionist Laura Wilcox, one of three people killed. Judith Edzards was shot three times in the attack, sustaining critical injuries.
Steven Spiller, a Nevada City attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, declined to comment.
Nevada County officials could not be reached for comment on the suit. Murdock, director of Nevada County Human Services Agency, did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Glenn Kottcamp, Heitzman’s attorney, did not return a message for comment. Heitzman is a former contract therapist for the county who treated Thorpe, court records show.
The claim alleges the defendants placed Laura Wilcox, Judith Edzards and others in danger by having them serve as front-line greeters and receptionists for mentally dangerous and unstable persons without providing security; protection; warnings and training about how to handle unstable individuals; and bullet-resistant glass requested by employees for the Behavioral Health waiting and reception room.
The claim also alleges that Heitzman and Lopez took no steps to prevent Thorpe from having access to weapons or to alert authorities, despite being aware that Thorpe had become increasingly paranoid.
Thorpe’s relatives reported prior to the shootings that he had an “arsenal of weapons.”
Heitzman had recommend that Thorpe take anti-psychotic medication, but Thorpe refused, according to the claim. Thorpe, described as a paranoid schizophrenic in the claim, is receiving treatment in a state mental facility.
A previous claim filed by the Wilcoxes and Edzards in federal court in the Eastern District of California was dismissed last month by Judge Edward J. Garcia.
Garcia declined to take up the issue of whether the county had a duty to act under state law, and allowed 30 days for a claim to be filed in Superior Court.
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