Slaying victim's family sues shop from which gun was stolen


The husband of an Arnold nightclub owner who was shot to death in the driveway of her home in 1993 filed a $10 million suit yesterday against the gun shop where police say the murder weapon was stolen.

Vincent N. Valentine filed suit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court against On Target, of the 2600 block of Annapolis Road, Severn, alleging that the store's negligence in allowing a handgun to be stolen on July 17, 1993, contributed to the death of his wife.

Joanne Shuey Valentine, 47, was killed in the driveway of her home in the 500 block of Broadwater Road on Sept. 26, 1993 after closing the Rumblefish restaurant in the 7900 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. in Pasadena.

The couple also owned A.L. Gators in the 8500 block of Fort Smallwood Road in Riviera Beach.

Police said ballistics tests established that the .38-caliber Taurus handgun confiscated from a shoplifting suspect about a month later was the weapon used in the killing.

Police discovered the gun in the trunk of a car driven by Edward W. McLeod, 45, of the 1800 block of Division St., after he was arrested Oct. 1, 1993, on a theft charge.

Mr. McLeod was charged in Mrs. Valentine's death on two separate occasions, but the charges were dropped both times.

State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee dropped the charges Feb. 7, 1994, after saying there was insufficient evidence to try the case and again March 30 after records showed a co-defendant, identified by a prosecution witness as being at the scene of the killing, was in jail at the time.

The couple's two children, Vincent Nicholas Valentine II, 17, and Nicholas Paul Valentine, 15, and Mrs. Valentine's parents, George William Shuey and Margaret Jane Shuey, both of Baltimore, are also plaintiffs in the suit.

The suit alleges that the Odenton gun shop was negligent in failing to train employees in theft prevention and in failing to secure the guns to prevent thefts.

Clarence M. Thomas, president of On Target Inc., which owns the shop, declined to be interviewed yesterday, but said in a prepared statement that he had not seen the suit, that the theft was reported promptly and that in 13 years of operation, he has always complied with the law.

"We regret the tragedy experienced by the Valentine family, however we do not bear any legal or moral responsibility for the acts of the criminal in this case," the statement said.

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