Family of gun store employee killed files suit against owner

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 11:54 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2023 at 12:14 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The family of the gun store employee who was shot to death in what was described as a “prank gone wrong” has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the gun store’s owner and the business.

Stefan Mrgan’s family claims that Jon Whitley, the owner of Coastal Firearms on Cainhoy Road in Berkeley County, was grossly negligent before and when he allegedly shot Mrgan in the face.

According to the court documents Whitley believed the gun he had picked up was unloaded at that time.

They go on to say that Whitley had a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping his employees safe and not to put them in unreasonably dangerous situations.

It also alleges that he did not ensure that loaded firearms were properly secured and employees were not trained well.

In April 2022, the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the business $3,000 and conducted a follow-up inspection.

That case still remains “open.”

The business also maintains its Federal Firearms License through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, allowing them to continue to sell firearms to the public.

Mrgan’s wife, Alison, in the months following her husband’s death, said the store was open just a few days after, with blood still on the carpet.

“There was a family purchasing a firearm for their child standing on the outline of the bloodstain. They didn’t even leave the gun store closed long enough to get the blood out of the carpet,” she said in an August interview.

She’s suing for emotional distress, suffering, and funeral costs among other damages.

Whitley has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter and remains out on bond while his case is pending.