Missouri Military Academy to pay out $700,000 to settle wrongful death lawsuit

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 5:52 p.m. CDT; updated 3:47 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MEXICO, Mo. — The parents of a student killed in a military academy rifle range accident will receive $700,000 to settle their wrongful death lawsuit against the school.

Audrain County court records show that the Missouri Military Academy agreed on June 16 to pay the six-figure settlement to Ignacio Garcia Fierros and Blanca Luz Almada Palacios de Garcia, both of Caborca, Mexico.

Their son, cadet Alain Garcia, died on Nov. 5, 2004, at the academy, a private residential school in central Missouri founded in 1889.

According to the lawsuit, filed in May 2007, Garcia, a sophomore, was shot during Junior ROTC training when a freshman cadet adjusted his firing mat at an instructor’s request. When the student turned to fix his mat, the butt of his .22 caliber M-12 rifle hit the ground, discharging a bullet that struck Garcia in the heart.

The rifle had a sensitive hair or “ghost” trigger with less than one pound of trigger pull, the complaint alleged.

Attorneys for both the school and Garcia’s parents declined comment Tuesday, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Col. Ronald Kelly, the school’s director of alumni affairs, also declined to discuss the incident, citing a promise he made to the family.

A full-page dedication in the school’s 2005 yearbook quotes Garcia’s parents as saying, “We love this school.”

“We want you to know that we are taking our son back to Mexico, but we are leaving Alain, in fact, at MMA to remain with you forever,” the dedication reads.

Garcia was born in 1987 and was a sophomore when he died. The all-boy academy has about 280 students in its middle and high schools. Annual tuition is nearly $28,000, and the school recruits heavily overseas, spokesman Mark Elwood said.

The lawsuit also named Randall Jacobson, the school’s rifle team coach and firing range instructor. Jacobson could not be reached for comment.

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