In the past two years, the number of women killed by a domestic partner in Bexar County has more than doubled.
According to a new report by the Texas Council on Family Violence, 11 women died in Bexar County as a result of domestic violence in 2016. In 2014, that number was five. This new data makes Bexar the fourth deadliest county in Texas for women victimized by a domestic partner. In total, Texas saw 146 women killed from domestic violence in 2016.
Nearly half of the women living in Bexar County, like 42-year-old Casey Drawert or 18-year-old Emilee Hurst
, were in the process of ending a relationship or had recently ended a relationship with their murderer. In total, the 11 women left behind 19 children. In some cases, their children watched the murder take place. Two of the women were pregnant at the time of their death.
One of the more remarkable statistics: Nine of the 11 women died from a gunshot wound.
This is a percentage that's steadily increased in Bexar County (and across Texas) in the decades TCFV has tracked these deaths. Which, to TCFV policy director Aaron Setliff, shows a flaw in current state law. While people convicted of domestic violence are legally expected to surrender their weapons, Setliff said many manage to still hang on to a few.
"We, as a state, need to come to terms with firearms," he said. "It doesn't have to be a political issue, since we already have the laws in place."
To Setliff, that means creating a more uniform, foolproof process for law enforcement officials to guarantee the abuser doesn't have access to a gun.
He lauded the recent work out of Bexar County to target domestic violence, despite the sobering data. "Even though the county experienced an increase in deaths in the past couple years, the District Attorney's office and law enforcement have come together to work toward a better outcome," Setliff said.
In 2015, after discovering an enormous backlog of domestic violence cases
in the county court system, DA Nico LaHood created a task force made up of 10 prosecutors that solely work on domestic violence cases. While it's helped unclog the backup, LaHood has said the number of cases continue to stream in in Bexar County. The city also has its own domestic violence response team — withs a history of slow-response time.
But Setliff believes the county's on the right track. "That kind of coordinated response will pay off," he said.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call the confidential Battered Women and Children's Shelter Hotline at 210-733-8810.