Advocates alarmed by deadly domestic incidents in Central Texas
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Domestic violence advocates are urging the Central Texas community to get educated about domestic violence after recent incidents in the past week that left two children and two women dead.
In Killeen, Alyssa Whitfield, 6, and Makayla R. Martin, 11, were shot and killed by Kendrick Donnell Gaines, 39, on March 12. Gaines was Martin’s stepfather and Whitfield’s uncle. The man is also accused of shooting and wounding his wife, Danielle Gaines, during the incident. She survived the attack.
In Waco, Adam James Gorski, 37, is accused of shooting and killing his mother and his wife Monday night. Waco Police identified the slain wife as Kimberly Cheney Gorski, 39, and the suspect’s slain mother as Teresa Vise, 61.
Local advocates working to prevent domestic violence situations told KWTX that while the murders are unusual, the domestic violence situations that led to the murders are something they see all too often.
“We have calls daily from the community, from law enforcement, from Baylor Scott & White,” said Executive Director of Aware Central Texas Misty Biddick, an advocacy group in the area. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have a call to our hotline.”
While the ideal outcome is for a victim to leave their domestic violence situation, Biddick and others say leaving is never simple.
“They know they want to get out of that situation but they’re unsure of how they’re going to be able to take care of themselves and their family. They think about financial, safe shelter, ‘how am I going to be able to feed me and my kids,’” Biddick said.
Police told KWTX that 911 was called to the home at 403 W. Vega Street in Killeen, where Gaines is accused of gunning down his family, 19 times since 2017. Authorities, however, said Gaines has no prior charges or convictions in Bell County.
During the pandemic lockdowns, domestic violence situations worsened as victims were stuck at home with their abusers. Although lockdowns have lifted for some time, the current economic uncertainty with inflation, rising gas prices and food costs are making it even more difficult for victims to leave, advocates say.
But even in the face of such big picture issues they say it takes neighbors to act and possibly save the lives of the most vulnerable including children.
“One of the things that you can do is continue to have a relationship with those individuals. A lot of times we kind of distance ourselves when we find out that things are going on. Be a support system. Because won thing that perpetrators do is isolate them from family and friends,” Biddick said.
While neighbors and friends are encouraged to step up and encourage the victim to seek help, advocates say people should not try to confront someone’s abuser especially if they may be armed.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.
Resources for domestic violence victims
Aware Central Texas’ 24/7 Hotline: 254-813-0968(call or text)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
Family Abuse Center, Inc Waco 800-283-8401
Families in Crisis, Inc. Killeen 254-634-8309
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