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Family suing gun retailer Cabela’s for selling son ammunition that killed him

Justin Fillios' family is claiming Cabela's violated company policy by selling ammunition and accessories to an individual under the age of 21 and broke the law by failing to request proper identification.

A Cabela's store in Berlin, MA
Years after their son was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot, Justin Fillios' family is suing Cabela's, the store they say violated company policy and the law by selling ammunition and accessories without requesting identification. Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Three years ago, Justin Fillios of Worcester was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Now, the late 20-year-old’s family is suing Cabela’s, the retailer that they allege broke company policy and illegally sold their son ammunition and accessories.

Fillios’ family, who believe the gunshot was accidental, is filing a lawsuit against Cabela’s for over $1 million, claiming they violated company policy by selling ammunition and accessories to an individual under the age of 21 and broke the law by failing to request proper identification.

The 15-page lawsuit amended on April 19 in the Worcester Superior Court seeks to hold Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Great Outdoors Group LLC, (the retailer’s owners), and the employee who sold the weapon, ammunition, and accessories, accountable “for their carelessness, recklessness and gross negligence.”


The lawsuit claims that Fillios purchased a Pietta 1851 Navy 44 caliber black powder revolver, muzzle loading powder, a powder spout, Hornaday 44 caliber lead round balls, wool wads, and a powder measuring funnel from Cabela’s, located at 44 Highland Commons East in Hudson, on Jan. 31, 2020.

According to the lawsuit, video shows Fillios purchasing the items without presenting a firearm identification card or license to carry identification, which the suit claims storeowner Richard Gilbert admitted was a error. The lawsuit states that Cabela’s has a company policy preventing customers under 21 from purchasing ammunition and Massachusetts law requires the presentation of specific identification when purchasing firearms, accessories, and ammunition.

The lawsuit alleges that Fillios arrived early the next morning, like he often had, to spend time with his close friend Austin Sheady at his house. While the two friends sat in Sheady’s room together watching television, Fillios attempted to dislodge a lead ball from the weapon.

As Fillios exited to use the bathroom, the lawsuit claims, the revolver misfired, discharging the ammunition through his chin and into his head. Two days later, the 20-year-old, regarded as “thoughtful, empathetic, and selfless,” died at UMass Memorial Hospital.

The Fillios family and their attorney hope that the lawsuit will compel Cabela’s to take greater steps to restrict certain purchases, such as locking ammunition behind a case, WCVB reported, hoping that no other family has to go through a similar tragic accident.


“How many times does it have to happen before corporate Cabela’s wakes up and says, we’re not doing enough?” David Hoeys, the family’s attorney told the news station.


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