Son fatally shot in back of head at Swansea party, mother claims in suit

By Kelly Holleran | Feb 2, 2010

A St. Clair County woman seeks damages in a lawsuit over her minor son's death at a party where another minor boy allegedly shot him in the back of the neck.

Cassandra Campbell filed a lawsuit Jan. 25 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Gary Johnson Jr., Gary Johnson Sr. and his wife, William Berglund and James Henderson.

Cassandra Campbell claims her deceased son, Rayshaun Do'mond Campbell attended a party on Jan. 26, 2008, at the Johnsons' home at the 422 ring of Kerry Road in Swansea when the incident occurred.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that on January 26, 2008 Rayshaun was lawfully at the home of Gary Johnson Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Gary Johnson Sr. at 422 Ring of Kerry Rd., Swansea, St. Clair County, Illinois, where a party attended by minors was in progress at which Gary Johnson, Jr. was present, at which alcoholic beverages were being consumed by some of the minors, including Gary Johnson, Jr., who was under the influence of such beverages, and that Gary Johnson, Jr., behaving recklessly, negligently shot Rayshaun in the neck with the pistol causing a fatal injury from which Rayshaun died that day," the suit states.

The gun used to shoot Rayshaun came from Henderson's home, according to the complaint.

People at the party waited an hour before calling an ambulance or any other first responder to assist Rayshaun, according to the complaint.

Before the accident, Gary Johnson Jr. displayed unstable behavior, the complaint says, and Cassandra Campbell blames him for causing her son's death, saying he consumed intoxicating beverages even though he was a minor, had possession of a firearm that was not licensed to him and discharged the firearm into Rayshaun.

She also names Gary Johnson Sr. and his wife as defendants, saying they negligently allowed minors to consume alcohol on their premises, allowed a minor to possess a loaded firearm and failed to prevent their son from discharging the firearm into Rayshaun, the complaint says.

Berglund owned the home where the incident occurred and was renting it to the Johnsons at the time, Cassandra Campbell claims. As the home's owner, Berglund had a responsibility to see that the home was safe for invited guests, but breached that duty by renting the home to the Johnsons, according to the complaint.

Henderson had a duty to ensure his pistol was secure in his home, but failed to do so, the suit states.

Because of her son's death, Cassandra Campbell and Rayshaun Campbell's siblings have been deprived of his felicity, care, attention, guidance, comfort, companionship and society, according to the complaint. In addition, they have suffered emotional harm and incurred funeral and burial expenses, the suit states.

In the eight-count suit, Cassandra Campbell seeks a judgment of more than $400,000, plus costs.

John Turner of Belleville will be representing Cassandra Campbell.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-32.

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