Link seen between domestic violence and mass killings - KCTV5

Link seen between domestic violence and mass killings

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Kenneth and Irene Hernandez pay their respects as they visit a makeshift memorial with crosses placed near the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Kenneth and Irene Hernandez pay their respects as they visit a makeshift memorial with crosses placed near the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/CBS) -

On Sunday, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley walked into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others in what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the deadliest mass shooting in his state's history. 

In the wake of this tragedy – as is often the case after similar attacks – many are left asking why and how could it happen.

While there is no easy answer, investigators have seen a common thread in more than half of the spate of mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years: domestic violence.

In fact, a recent analysis of FBI data by the group Everytown for Gun Safety found that over a five-year period, 54 percent of mass shootings were related to domestic or family violence and included the killing of a partner or other family member.

Every day in the United States, three people are killed at the hands of their partner, and that doesn’t include the numbers of family or friends unfortunate enough to be in the room when it happens.

Local advocates say the conversation is missing a critical link after a mass shooting, and, until we include it, it’ll continue.

"Anytime there’s a mass shooting, that’s the first question I ask," said Mary Anne Metheny who has been helping local domestic violence survivors for 25 years.

She says whenever there’s a mass shooting, like the one we just saw in Texas, she wonders whether domestic violence played a role. In this case, it did.

Investigators say Kelley – a former airman in the US military – had been court marshaled for beating his wife and stepchild years ago and had been sending his mother-in-law threatening text messages leading up to the church massacre.

Metheny says while it’s critical we have the conversation about gun control and mental health issues, we need to add domestic violence to the list.

“We never talk about what do we need to do to end domestic violence ... and if we can really have the conversation, start by looking at what is it going to take to end domestic violence in our society. We will make an impact on mass shootings, we definitely will," she said.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call a local number that’s run by all of the shelters. That number is 816-HOTLINE.

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