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Domestic abuse homicide under unfortunate spotlight, expert says

Police say the shooting that left a woman dead, wounded an officer and sent a suspect to the hospital was a case of domestic abuse homicide. In Utah, that's the third case in recent days. Photo: John Wojcik, KSL

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — After the death of a woman amid an apartment shooting Monday morning in Salt Lake City, experts say cases of domestic abuse homicide are unfortunately in the spotlight – and far too common.

Jenn Oxborrow with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition says domestic abuse homicides can happen quite a bit, with three cases in Utah just in the last week.

Oxborrow said all of the fatalities were preventable.

“These are all related to firearms, in situations where the person should be restricted,” Oxborrow told Dave and Dujanovic Monday morning.

Related: Susan Powell continues to help domestic violence victims, ten years later

Domestic abuse homicide in Utah

Oxborrow said the experience can be traumatic and painful for several involved, including the officers responding to the situation and children who may be witnessing the event.

“We have four people who died, we’ve had two different officer-involved shootings,” she said. “We’ve had two children witness their mother and her intimate partner being shot by their father. Both of those children were under the age of 10.”

Oxborrow says that, in her opinion, domestic violence calls are the most violent. It also puts responding officers at risk, which is what caused the injury of an officer Monday morning when he was shot in the line of duty.

“We have to do something about this,” Oxborrow said. “We have to start a conversation about how to be safer with these really-high risk situations.”

Restricting firearms access is key, Oxborrow says

Oxborrow said the shooter in Monday’s domestic violence abuse case should have been restricted from having a firearm.

When someone is restricted, it is because it has been proven to “a high threshold,” according to Oxborrow, that the victim has been extensively stalked, harassed, treated violently or has witnessed an ongoing pattern of abuse. The victim will report that someone is at high risk of hurting themselves or others, putting them under this protective order.

This protective order will restrict them from having a firearm.

Oxborrow said it’s important to uphold these protective orders and to get help at first sign that someone is in crisis. Often, signs will be ignored if the person at risk is suicidal — onlookers will think they would only hurt themselves.

However, these suicidal factors can be enough that the person at risk will extend the risk to family members if they are convinced they will lose everything anyway.

How to get help

Oxborrow said it’s extremely important to reach out and get these protective orders, because the access to guns when in a crisis is extremely dangerous.

“We need to do more to coordinate our efforts to make sure that when a high-risk person is a subject of an order of protection where there’s domestic violence, that we’re getting lethal means away and just temporarily interrupting that really high point of tension and risk when these tragedies happen,” Oxborrow said.

Just interrupting that tension for a couple days could avoid tragedy, Oxborrow said.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online: udvc.org.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

More to the story

Listen to the full interview from the Dave and Dujanovic show from Monday morning:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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