Those suffering in domestic-violence situations urged to seek help
The third domestic violence murder of 2019, which took place Saturday, and a rape early Wednesday that was related to domestic abuse prompted Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer and District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp to warn that Fresno is on pace to reach 9,000 such crimes this year.
That would be a 17 percent increase over 2018, when there were no murders related to the crime, the chief said at a news conference. There, Dyer and Smittcamp joined officials from the Marjaree Mason Center to warn victims of the crime to get out of abusive relationships before events spin out of control.
Dyer also noted a worrisome spike in the injuries: 54 percent have resulted in serious injuries, including one in which a woman was burned on the face with a cigarette lighter and forced to say she was at fault in the relationship. So far, 209 of the cases are classified as aggravated assaults.
Police say Kimieona Holt, 26, was killed Saturday in southeast Fresno by William Rivera, 40, a day after a judge ordered Rivera to stay away from Holt, surrender any firearms, and attend a year-long program for abusers. Authorities said there were no laws allowing police to do more to protect Holt from Rivera, who shot Holt six times before taking his own life as police chased him down. Dyer said Rivera had a criminal history in Southern California and the Baltimore area that would prohibit him from having a gun, and police are trying to determine how he managed to obtain one.
The rape case was reported early Wednesday. Officers near Belmont and Blackstone avenues found a woman who had been raped and stabbed by two men during a domestic violence crime.
“She was tied up and left for dead,” Dyer said.
The woman is recovering in a hospital. The perpetrators remain at large.
Smittcamp urged anyone in an abusive relationship to take the red flag warnings seriously. If the abuser is becoming more verbally abusive, and the victim is in fear, “it’s time to get out,” she said.
Nicole Linder, executive director of the Marjaree Mason Center, called abuse victims the “hidden homeless,” and said so far this year, 250 adults and more than 300 children have sought sanctuary at the center.