Shooting victim sues Oregon State fraternity

CORVALLIS Ore.

A homeless man shot in the leg by an Oregon State University student has filed a lawsuit against the student and his fraternity.

Dennis Sanderson was shot last October in an alley behind the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house by a .22-caliber rifle bullet.

Joshua Grimes, 20, a fraternity member from Glide, pleaded guilty to assault and unlawful use of a weapon. He was sentenced to 150 days in jail, which he completed in August.

Grimes also must complete 400 hours of community service at a homeless shelter, three years of supervised probation and pay $3,000 in fines.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Benton County Circuit Court names Grimes, the national Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, the Alpha Gamma Rho educational foundation and the OSU chapter of the fraternity.

Sanderson claims medical expenses of $5,500 and seeks punitive damages that will be specified later but will be at least $50,000.

“This lawsuit is intended not only to compensate Mr. Sanderson for his injuries, but to hold a fraternal organization accountable for promoting a culture of violence, irresponsibility with guns and animosity toward the homeless,” the complaint said.

The attorney for Grimes was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the fraternity at its national headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., said fraternity officials had no comment.

When Corvallis police searched the fraternity house following the shooting, they found more than two dozen weapons including multiple .22-caliber rifles, assault rifles, semiautomatic rifles, and 12- and 20-gauge shotguns.

Although the fraternity had a gun safe, many of the guns were not stored in it, according to a police report. Guns and ammunition were found in closets, bedrooms and cars.

After the shooting, all of the fraternities and sororities at Oregon State banned weapons, except Alpha Gamma Rho, according to Robert Kerr, OSU’s coordinator of Greek life.

The lawsuit claims that the fraternity should have taken steps to control the storage and use of weapons in the house.

The investigation also revealed that Grimes was accompanied by another fraternity member when he shot at Sanderson.

There had been reports of other homeless people being shot at or near the fraternity house and that, during interviews by investigators, some members of the fraternity referred to homeless people as “bums.”

“Some of the people who are accountable were not held accountable,” said Adam Brittle, Sanderson’s attorney. “The sentencing (of Grimes) did not satisfy many people.”

–Associated Press



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