Domestic violence deaths on the riseAt least 34 Minnesotans were killed last year as a result of domestic abuse, according to the 2011 Minnesota Femicide Report.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
At least 34 Minnesotans were killed last year as a result of domestic abuse, according to the 2011 Minnesota Femicide Report. That number includes Lake City police officer Shawn Schneider, who was shot while responding to a domestic violence call Dec. 19.
Of those deaths, 23 were women, four were children, one was a man and six were friends, family or interveners.
Last year’s total was up from 2010, when 29 Minnesotans were killed. However, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, who released the report last month, says trends or patterns cannot be identified.
“The number of people killed each year due to domestic violence fluctuates — some years there are more, other years less,” the MCBW stated.
The report points out certain similarities among Minnesota domestic violence deaths in the past 20 years and compiled a list of “red flags” that could indicate the potential for lethality in domestic violence situations. They include the victim’s attempts to leave the abuser, previous threats to kill victim, access to firearms and history of violence.
“For the past six years, these lethality factors were present in a significant number of cases,” the report states. Even so, the report added that it’s impossible to predict which abusers will actually kill their victims.
The report, which uses media reports to compile its statistics, also notes that the number of perpetrators who commit suicide after killing their victim is high. In Minnesota, murder-suicides account for between 47 and 61 percent of domestic violence homicides. The national average is 25 percent.
None of the deaths mentioned in the MCBW report occurred in Goodhue County; Schneider was shot just over the Wabasha County line.
Still, Kris Kvols, executive director of Red Wing women’s shelter the HOPE Coalition, said the domestic violence hasn’t left the region unscathed.
“We’ve seen the femicide reports hit home two years in a row,” she said.
Schneider was shot by Alan J. Sylte Jr., 25, of Hager City, while Sylte was fighting with an ex-girlfriend. After shooting Schneider, Sylte shot and killed himself.
In Feb. 2011, Zumbrota police officer Rob Jarrett shot and killed Thomas Robinson, 37. Robinson was firing shots at his wife, Rebecca, as she attempted to take personal items from their house.
On Thursday afternoon, Lake City Police evacuated residents and blocked streets after a man ordered his girlfriend to leave the residence and then fired a gun in the house.
“We have a tendency to believe that happens somewhere else and not here,” Kvols said of domestic violence.
Local numbers also indicate that domestic violence is a common occurrence in southeastern Minnesota. Goodhue County granted 78 orders for protection in 2011, up from 73 in 2010.
On top of that, the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office received 60 domestic calls for service last year; Red Wing Police Department received 150.
At the HOPE Coalition, which covers Goodhue County and parts of Wabasha and Pierce counties, the number of calls to its crisis hotline exceeds 520.
“They call if they’re in a violent situation,” she said.
While the center didn’t see any large change from 2010 in the number of crisis calls, Kvols noted that battered women are staying longer than they previously did at Hope House. In 2009, the average stay for a woman was 32 days. Now it’s up to 45 days.
Kvols said the MCBW report, as well as local numbers, shows the impact domestic violence has on women.
“It confirms what we’ve been seeing for a long time,” she said.