Vargas: More work needed in educating public about real danger of domestic violence

By Joe Vargas

On Thursday, May 12, the evil that is domestic violence reared its ugly head in the worst way.

Humberto Servin is alleged to have confronted his estranged wife, Claudia Espino Garcia, in the area of Crescent Elementary School and Peralta Hills Park, shooting and killing her as she sat in her vehicle.

Their young daughter was present and apparently witnessed the shooting, giving details to investigators that assisted in helping them track down her father’s vehicle. He was arrested on suspicion of the crime within 15 minutes in the parking lot of the Anaheim Police Department East Station.

The shooting occurred as school was being dismissed and hundreds of children were in and around the area. Some of the children and parents witnessed the shooting.

My immediate reaction upon hearing about the shooting was, What kind of a person would kill someone in front of their own child and in front of dozens of other children? It is a level of depravity and viciousness that is difficult to comprehend.

So Monday night I attended a community meeting hosted by the Anaheim Police Department to address the concerns of residents in the aftermath of the shooting. The meeting went well and questions were answered by both police officers and domestic violence advocates.

I can understand their concern. As parents, we send our children to school expecting them to be safe. The last thing you would expect is for your child to be exposed to a killing.

As I spoke with residents and listened to their concerns there seemed to be a common sentiment:

How could this happen here?

Elia Renteria, from the Orange County Family Justice Center, explained: “Domestic violence happens everywhere, every day. There are no boundaries to where or when it can occur.”

The statistics regarding domestic violence are staggering.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Every minute, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.
  • Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • 72% of murder suicides involved an intimate partner.
  • On average, more than three women are killed every day by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence homicides are not rare. Just this past week these tragic incidents of domestic violence were reported across the country.

On May 12, Coral Anita Wilson, from Birmingham, Ala., a mother of eight was shot and killed in her home by her husband. Four children also were shot and wounded. The wounded children are ages 5, 8, 11 and 12.

On May 13, Iwona Pawliszyn, from Staten Island, N.Y., was found with her throat slashed in her home. Her ex-husband was later found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound 100 miles away. They had three children.

On May 14, Lyuba Savenok, from Eden Prairie, Minn., died after being stabbed by her husband not long after police were called to her house over a domestic incident. She was 26- weeks pregnant with her third child.

On May 15, Tammy Jones from Ironton, Mo., was shot and killed by her husband in front of their children. Her husband then shot himself but is expected to recover.

On May 16, in Portsmouth, R.I., Manuel Laureanno was shot and killed by his wife during a domestic disturbance.

These incidents speak dramatically to the fact that every day people are dying as a result of domestic violence. It is obvious more work needs to be done.

According to Ms. Renteria, domestic violence is preventable. Resources are available.

If you are the victim of domestic violence there are people and organizations who want to help. If you know someone who is in a domestic-violence relationship you can be the one that serves as the catalyst to end the “cycle of violence.”

As this latest case demonstrates, people’s lives could depend on it.

The Orange County Family Justice Center provides resources for those who need assistance in dealing with domestic violence.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.