BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — The family of a mother and school teacher who was shot and killed in Boynton Beach back in April is suing the apartment complex where the crime happened.
Boynton Beach police said 55-year-old Jeffrey Garner gunned down his neighbor, 51-year-old Gabriela Marino, at the Manatee Bay Apartments, located at 1632 N. Federal Hwy., on April 3.
Investigators said the two were having a fight around 7 a.m. When Marino tried to leave, Garner shot and killed her.
Police said Garner was still shooting when officers arrived at the complex. Officers said Garner didn't comply with their demands to drop his weapon, so they were forced to open fire, killing him.
On Tuesday morning, Marino's family held a news conference to announce a negligence lawsuit against the Manatee Bay Apartments Corporation.
"Manatee Bay failed to keep its community safe," said Lee Levenson, an attorney representing Marino's family.
"The bottom line is that the community let the family down," said Robert Gonzalez, another attorney for Marino's family.
🔽 WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE 🔽
The lawsuit states:
"The preventable murder occurred as a direct and proximate result of Manatee Bay's failure to use reasonable care in carrying out Manatee Bay's duty to keep the premises of its apartment complex safe or business invitees such as tenant Gabriela Marino..."
The lawsuit goes onto say:
"Manatee Bay has created a false sense of security with fences and gates which have giant gaps in them and create a porous boundary... Manatee Bay Apartment Corporation chose not to provide roving security."
Levenson and Gonzalez said Marino and Garner had been casually dating, but Marino broke it off when she noticed red flags.
"He was very upset. He had been harassing her and stalking her," said Levenson.
The attorneys added Garner had been drinking the night before the shooting.
"Had their been roving security, they would have noticed he was publicly a nuisance in the community," said Gonzalez. "He was knocking down doors, he was being loud, he was being obnoxious and disorderly. These are things we think the community could have absolutely 100 percent avoided."
The lawsuit also claims Garner had a violent history and:
"...defendant allowed a tenant with a history of domestic violence and substance abuse to remain on the premises."
Marino's family said the murder was avoidable and is seeking at least $15,000 in damages.
A spokesperson for the Manatee Bay Apartments Corporation released this statement to WPTV on Tuesday:
"Manatee Bay Apartments takes pride in providing resort-style living to all of its residents. The safety and comfort of its residents and their guests are Manatee Bay’s highest priority. The brutal murder of Ms. Marino by her former boyfriend is truly tragic and a great loss to the entire Manatee Bay Community and its staff. However, Manatee Bay denies all liability and denies that it had any ability to prevent this crime of passion committed after Ms. Marino terminated her romantic relationship with the assailant. Manatee Bay was not aware of Ms. Marino’s and the assailant’s romantic relationship."
Boynton Beach police said five officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is department policy in officer-involved shootings.
🔽 READ THE LAWSUIT 🔽