GUILFORD — The parents of Ethan Song, who fatally shot himself at a friend’s house, have settled their lawsuit against the friend’s father, the gun owner, for $1 million.
Kristin and Michael Song settled the suit against Daniel Markle and his private investigation company, Markle Investigations, and it was finalized June 19 by Judge Mark J. DeGennaro in Madison-Guilford Probate Court. The Songs receive $776,490.28 after attorney and court fees.
DeGennaro had denied a motion to seal the settlement, which was included in Ethan Song’s estate file. The settlement was first reported by the Hartford Courant.
Ethan Song, 15, died from an accidental gunshot on Jan. 31, 2018, at the Markle resident on Seaside Avenue. Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt issued her report Nov. 20, 2018, which said the two teenagers had played with the guns on several occasions.
The pistols were stored in a plastic box in a closet, secured with gun locks. Ammunition and keys to the gun locks were in the same box. Platt said she would not bring criminal charges against Markle because the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Markle knew the guns were loaded, which was required under state law.
The decision led to passage of Ethan’s Law in the General Assembly, which permits prosecution in an accidental death, whether the owner knew the weapon was loaded or not. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced a federal version of the bill in the Senate in January.
“The money means nothing to us,” Kristin Song said Monday in a text message from Las Vegas, where she said she will pose a question to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at a gun safety forum with 10 presidential candidates on Wednesday. It will be broadcast on MSNBC and livestreamed on NBC News Now.
A mass shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas left 58 dead and about 700 injured and is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
“We sued Mr. Markle because we have always felt that Ethan’s death lies at his feet,” Song said in her text. “He would not stand up and take responsibility for his actions and instead [threw] his child under the bus. We want to send a message to gun owners that they need to take personal responsibility for their deadly weapons. They are the ones who brought the guns into the home and they should pay the ultimate price — not the children. Access to [guns] accounts for a majority of suicide in children and accidental shootings. Eight children a day lose their life because the gun owners did not secure their weapon.”
Markle’s son was charged with second-degree manslaughter and first-degree reckless endangerment in juvenile court.
Song said she and her husband had not decided how to use the settlement, calling it “a really unhappy moment to pick up money because your beautiful child is dead.”