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Mother Says Shop Sold Gun to Suicide Despite Warning

February 10, 1989

HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) _ A resident who says she warned a gun dealer across the street not to sell a weapon to her depressed son is suing the shop because the young man later bought a pistol there and shot himself to death.

Alicia Portela filed a wrongful death suit in Dade Circuit Court against Metro Distributors Inc., owner of the gun shop across the street from her home.

Ms. Portela said her 29-year-old son, Luis Oscar Perez, suffered from depression and had been receiving psychiatric care for two years.

″He said he wanted to kill himself,″ she said Wednesday. ″He told his father he was going to buy a gun. Since the shop is right across the street from our house, I went there and told them not to sell my son a gun. I told them he had a mental illness.″

Portela, however, said she did not remember whom she talked to, and Metro vice president Dennis Whitt said no one at the store recalls the incident.

″I’m not familiar with the person. I’m not familiar with the incident. None of this rings a bell,″ Whitt said.

According to the suit, Perez bought the gun at the store Aug. 5, two or three months after his mother says she talked to the clerk. He paid $345 for a .357-caliber Smith & Wesson and a box of shells.

The shop waited the required 48 hours to give him the gun, and two weeks later he used it to commit suicide.

The mother said Metro had violated state law by selling the gun to ″a person of unsound mind.″

The clerk should have been able to tell he was unsound because of his ″trembling hands. The look in his eyes. His uneasiness,″ the mother contends.

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