Family of Georgia HS student killed at mall sues property for negligence

“I feel like god has put in me a tragedy, which has now come responsibility,” said Dawn Dewitt, Elijah Dewitt’s mother.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 12:46 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The family of Northeast Georgia High School football star, Elijah Dewitt, who was fatally shot at a Lawrenceville mall made a big announcement on Friday. They’re filing a civil suit against the owner of the property where the shooting took place alleging negligence.

ORIGINAL STORY: Arrest made in connection to shooting of Jefferson High School football star

“I feel like god has put in me a tragedy, which has now come responsibility,” said Dawn Dewitt, Elijah Dewitt’s mother.

She wants to ensure no family has to endure the pain that she feels, the pain of losing a child. Her 18-year-old son, Elijah Dewitt, was shot and killed during an argument outside a Gwinnett County mall in October of 2022.

19-year-old Chandler Zion Richardson and another teenager, 18-year-old Kemare Bryan, are accused of killing Dewitt. Richardson faced a judge on Friday morning pleading ‘not guilty’ to all four counts, which include murder.

RELATED: Football community mourns shooting death of Jefferson standout athlete

But the family says the criminal case doesn’t go far enough.

“There’s a reason that these crimes don’t happen in other places,” said Mike Rafi, an attorney for the family.

Rafi says there is a substantial history of previous crime on the premises of the mall and why the property did not take reasonable safety measures to protect its visitors is the heart of their lawsuit.

The suit is filed against Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, Allied Universal, and Dave and Busters for failing to provide adequate security to keep Dewitt safe.

“Can there be more cameras, can there be brighter lights, can there be more signage saying this is a safe place? If you commit a crime here you will be persecuted,” said Craig Dewitt, Elijah Dewitt’s father.

The family insists it’s not about the money, it’s about change. And they hope this civil suit accomplishes just that.

“It’s about telling people, hey, if you commit a crime you’re going to commit a crime and you’re going to get caught. The defendants, in this case, didn’t think that,” said Rafi.

“We can’t just stand by and watch innocent kids be taken from their parents if there are preventative measures to do so,” said Dawn Dewitt.

Atlanta News First reached out to all three entities named in the civil suit and is waiting for a response.