TAMPA — A Tampa woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the Navy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and two defense contractors over her sister’s death in the Sept. 16 Washington Navy Yard shooting.
Patricia Delorenzo, who represents the estate of Mary Frances Delorenzo Knight, filed a wrongful death suit in Tampa against the two government agencies as well as The Experts, a Fort Lauderdale company that hired the gunman, and Hewlett-Packard, which hired The Experts as a subcontractor.
Knight, 51, a civilian cybersecurity expert for the Navy Sea Systems Command, was gunned down at the Washington Navy Yard in the nation’s capital. She was one of 12 people shot by Navy veteran Aaron Alexis, who was working at the building as a contractor for The Experts.
The suit alleges the government was negligent in allowing a security breach and in the way it dealt with Alexis, who had two previous arrests for gun violence and a well-documented history of delusional and aggressive behavior.
The government knew Alexis was delusional, dangerous and should never have been released from the VA medical center weeks before the shooting, the suit says.
Alexis carried a sawed-off shotgun and a hundred rounds of ammo into the navy yard without undergoing any screening.
Last month, lawyers representing Knight’s two adult daughters and Lorenzo filed administrative claims in Washington with the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs, notifying them of their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
DeLorenzo and the daughters — Nicole Shuck and Danielle DeLorenzo — are seeking a total of $37.5 million.
At a news conference in Tampa last month, DeLorenzo, a 38-year-old hair stylist, said the legal action is being taken in memory of her sister and to prevent another incident like the one that took her life.
“My sister would want me to fight for her and fight for her girls, so that’s what I am going to do and make sure this never happens again,” DeLorenzo said then.
“She was sort of like the glue that held everybody together.”
DeLorenzo said her sister, 13 years younger and a divorced mother of two, lived in Tampa from 2005 to 2007 “because I lived there and she loved Florida.”
The Navy had no comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.
“We are working closely with the Department of Justice,” said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for the Navy. “This is an ongoing action and it would be inappropriate to comment further. The Navy remains committed to providing continued support to victims and families of this tragic event.”
VA officials referred to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hewlett-Packard officials declined comment and The Experts did not respond.
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