Domestic violence murder rate doubles from last year in Capital City

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Sgt. L'Jean McKneely with BRPD (Source: WAFB)
Sgt. L'Jean McKneely with BRPD (Source: WAFB)
DA Melanie Fields (Source: WAFB)
DA Melanie Fields (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Domestic violence murders are on the rise in Baton Rouge, according to Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fields.

A Baton Rouge woman continues to fight for her life in the hospital one day after police say her boyfriend shot her in the head before turning the gun on himself at a home on Banyan Trace Drive Tuesday. That crime is the latest in a drove of recent domestic violence cases in the capital area.

"It's all around scary," said Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman, Sgt. L'Jean McKneely.

"It's very alarming," Fields added.

Fields says the crimes of passion among partners is out of control and the threat is ramping up at an alarming rate. "In fact, our domestic and dating violence murders, they've doubled from last year," she said.

This year alone, there have been 12 murders linked to domestic violence in Baton Rouge. Of those 12,  four of them have been classified murder-suicides. Fields believes the violence usually starts small, with isolation or controlling behavior that can quickly escalate to more.

"Usually, it's emotional and sometimes it's financial as well, but it can escalate to physical violence as well," said Fields.

Several frantic calls flooded into dispatch almost a year ago, detailing perhaps one of the more brutal cases of domestic violence in recent memory. A routine Sunday night along Essen Lane on November 27, 2016 quickly spiraled into a murder scene. Officials say 48-year-old Terrel Walker fatally shot his girlfriend, April Peck, 30, and pushed her from the car in the middle of the busy roadway. He's then accused of firing randomly on EMS workers and running over anyone trying to render aid.

The gunman was tracked down hours later and his life was ended in a deadly shootout with law enforcement.

While not every domestic violence case ends in such a dramatic way, every one of them like the most recent attempted murder-suicide on Banyan Trace Drive is just as damaging. "Everybody's affected by domestic violence," said McKneely.

With organizations and resources available to help in the area, Fields says the most important way to prevent the problem is by removing the shame many victims may feel and encouraging them to come forward. "We want to help stop the violence, stop that cycle of violence," she added.

Fields encourages people to reach out to the Iris Domestic Violence Center if they need help escaping a potentially violent situation.

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