U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management said on Tuesday it will immediately begin selling its investment in gunmaker Freedom Group in light of last week's school shooting in Connecticut.
Cerberus acquired Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677.3 million for the nine months ending September 2012, up from $564.6 million in the same period a year ago.
Bushmaster is the manufacturer of the AR 15 rifle used by the shooter in the Newtown killings that claimed 27 lives, including 20 school children.
"We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition," Cerberus said in a statement.
The private equity firm said it will retain a financial adviser to sell its interests in Freedom Group, and will then return that capital to investors.
Pressure mounted on Cerberus as the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) said on Monday it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm in light of the Connecticut school shooting.
(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore)