Local News

Slain Wake Deputy's Widow Sues Gun Shop Owner For Negligence

Posted October 17, 2005

— The widow of a Wake County sheriff's deputy filed a lawsuit against the killer and the shop that sold the gun used to kill her husband.

"I lost my best friend, I lost my confidant," Patricia Tucker said Monday at a news conference at a fallen law enforcement memorial in front of the Wake County Public Safety Building in downtown Raleigh.

Matthew Grant was convicted in November 2004 of killing her husband, Deputy Mark Tucker, and sentenced to life in prison.

The lawsuit filed Monday claims Vernon Pardue, the owner of Cary Jewelry and Pawn, was negligent, saying he should have known the buyer, Van McQueen, was drunk, had a history of mental illness and was dangerous. Grant could not buy the gun because he had a felony record.

"I just want the violence to stop. I want law enforcement protected. I just want all humanity protected," she said. "I have been a nurse for 35 years. I have put back the pieces of lives that have been destroyed by guns. I just want people to act responsibly."

Pardue said McQueen was drunk the first time he came into the store. At that time, he refused to sell McQueen a gun.

When McQueen returned several days later, however, Pardue allowed him to purchase the gun. McQueen had filled out the proper paperwork, had a background check and was approved by federal authorities to purchase the gun.

"When the FBI tells you it's OK to do this, then you got to put your trust in the FBI," Pardue said. "They're the ones that checked the man out; they're the ones that approved him. They're the ones that told me it was OK to sell the gun."

Pardue said he never saw Grant and had no idea McQueen intended to give the gun to Grant. While he said that he was saddened about Tucker's death, he said he did not feel like he was legally responsible.

Tucker is being aided in her fight by the Brady Center to Control Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. Last year, the group helped victims in similar cases across the country win $4.4 million in settlements against gun dealers and gun makers.

"If they had refused to make the sale, Investigator Tucker might be alive today," said Daniel Vice, an attorney for the Brady Center.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is named for Jim Brady, a former White House press secretary who was paralyzed during an assassination attempt against former President Ronald Reagan.

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