CONCORD, N.C. — The family of Aveanna Propst, the 13-year-old girl who died after being hit by a stray bullet outside Concord Mills in 2019, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Simon Property Group.
The lawsuit also names Mall at Concord Mills Limited Partnership, Dave & Busters Entertainment, Inc. and other defendants, including the accused shooters.
The lawsuit alleges that “prior to December 28, 2019, defendants . . . had actual or constructive knowledge of criminal activity generally at Concord Mills Mall, and more specifically of delinquent activity arising from a longstanding problem with unsupervised juveniles at Concord Mills Mall.”
The lawsuit details a number of crimes at the mall dating back to 2015, including burglaries, assaults, and armed larceny and robbery.
The lawsuit also describes a Sept. 11, 2017 meeting where the “Concord Police Department met with mall management to discuss security issues at the mall.” Concord Police met with mall management again in March 2018 to address the mall’s security issues and according to the lawsuit, “Concord Police Department warned that something bad, like a shooting was going to happen. Mall management conceded that it would probably take a shooting for any changes to be made by corporate (Defendant Simon Property Group, Inc.).”
Details shared in the lawsuit shed more light on the tragic events the night Aveanna Propst was killed.
According to the lawsuit, a group of unsupervised juveniles began causing a disturbance inside the mall at the Dave & Buster’s and a short time later a verbal altercation took place between 18-year-old Dontae Milton-Black and a 16-year-old boy.
It is alleged that Milton-Black “manipulated” a gun in his clothing to signal to the other teen that he was armed. The 16-year-old then ran away through the mall, through Dave & Buster’s and into the mall parking lot.
Milton-Black and his friend, a 15-year-old boy, followed him out into the parking lot.
At the same time, Aveanna, who had been at the mall with her family to buy new sneakers with money she had received at Christmas, was headed across the mall parking lot with her older sister, making their way to their mother to go home.
The lawsuit says both Milton-Black and the 15-year-old began firing gunshots across the parking lot at the 16-year-old boy when Aveanna was hit by a bullet. Two other teen boys were also shot, but survived.
Lawyers said the girl was walking hand-in-hand with her older sister when she was shot.
According to the lawsuit, Aveanna’s mom sobbed and begged responding officers to be allowed to crouch next to her dying daughter, and Aveanna’s younger brother politely asked officers if they would “please let his mom be next to his sister before she goes to heaven.”
“I’m traumatized,” Aveanna’s mother Daniale Mackin said during a press conference Wednesday. “To see her laying there with no help and no moving, it is all I can remember.”
Mackin said her 9-year-old son has since suffered from mental health crises, even attempted suicide.
Aveanna was an 8th-grader at Ace Academy Charter School. Her family said she was an outgoing girl with a personality that would light up a room.
Milton-Black and the 15-year-old were both charged with Aveanna’s murder.
“Since the shooting that took the life of Aveanna Propst, more incidents continue to occur at Concord Mills Mall,” said the family’s attorney Brian Mickelsen. “Unless something changes, Concord Mills Mall will continue to be the scene of violence and tragedy in the community.”
“Nothing is being done and it could happen to somebody else”
At a press conference on Wednesday announcing the lawsuit, the family and the family’s attorney said they want their presence to send a message.
“For these survivors to stand up, to demand justice, to demand change and that’s what this lawsuit is about,” Mickelson said.
“Nothing is being done and it could happen to somebody else,” Mackin said.
Mackin said since her daughter’s death, no one from Concord Mills management has contacted her. Channel 9 has reached out to Simon and Concord Mills for comment on the lawsuit but has not gotten a response.
Dave and Buster’s sent us a statement, saying, “While we continue to be deeply saddened by the shooting that cut short the life of Aveanna Propst in the Mall parking lot outside our store and our sympathies remain with the family she left behind, we do not comment on litigation.”
Allied Universal, another defendant in the case, sent Channel 9 a statement, saying, “We send our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and loved ones. Allied Universal takes all lawsuits seriously, but we are unable to comment on pending litigation.”
Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos spoke with the Concord police chief, who said the mall has made some changes to prohibit groups from gathering around the movie theater area. But the chief said multiple times, over several years, his department has suggested a teen escort policy over the weekends at the mall to make sure teens are supervised by adults.
So far, mall management has not implemented that.
(WATCH: Second suspect charged in shooting death of 13-year-old girl at Concord Mills)
Cox Media Group