The family of a slain motorist has filed suit against the maker of a video game that two teens claim inspired them to shoot at passing cars on a Tennessee highway.
Grand Theft Auto, a video game that allows players to "fire" on people and cars in realistic, shoot-'em-up fashion, is a cash cow that propelled manufacturer TAKE2interactive to the top of the video game industry. For the middle and high school students who play the game for hours on end, it's a means of escaping the monotony of teenage life.
But for two stepbrothers, 16-year-old William and 14-year-old Joshua Buckner, that escape turned deadly this summer. They told police they were emulating Grand Theft Auto on the night of June 25 when they took shotguns to Interstate 40, near their Newport, Tenn., home, and opened fire on vehicles.
A Bullet Through the Window
The boys told police they did not mean to hit people, but the results were catastrophic.
"I have eight bullet fragments all in my body," said 19-year-old Kimberly Bede, of Moneta, Va., who was hit in the pelvis as she rode in the passenger seat of her boyfriend's car. "The bullet entered my hip and I'm still receiving medical treatment."
Aaron Hamel, a 45-year-old registered nurse from Knoxville, Tenn., traveling in a separate car, was killed.
"We had a beautiful day in the mountains, and we were heading back home to Knoxville," said Hamel's cousin, Denise Deneau on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America Friday.
"We were talking, laughing, listening to music and all of a sudden my cousin told me to look at the beautiful flowers. And as I did that, my glass shattered and I felt heat across my face," she said.
When Deneuau saw the glass and blood she thought she had been shot, but when she realized the car was out of control, she looked at Hamel.
"He had a large bullet hole at the side of his head," Deneuau said.
After the car made it across the highway, passing oncoming traffic, it stopped at the guard rail.
Deneuau said she knew her cousin would die quickly from the nature of the injury.
"I reassured him that I was OK and that I would take care of his pets and I told him that I loved him," she said.
Family members say the nature of Hamel's death is especially ironic because he had volunteered to work at a Tennessee facility for wayward teens shortly before the shooting.
Teens Plead Guilty, Lawsuit Filed
The teenage shooters, who each pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, will be held at a state juvenile detention center until they turn 19. The law in Tennessee allows them to remain in the custody of the state Department of Children's Services until they are 19, but no longer.
In written statements, the boys expressed remorse for their actions.
"I will always hate myself for what I did. I am so sorry," wrote William Buckner.
"I didn't want to hurt anyone," wrote Joshua Buckner. "This will be with me the rest of my life."
The Hamel family hired attorney Jack Thompson and filed suit Thursday against TAKE2interactive, the video game maker. Thompson says it's time to send a message to the video game makers.