FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — October is domestic violence awareness month and on Thursday city and community leaders gathered in Reedley to honor and remember victims of domestic violence.
Resource centers like the Marjaree Mason Center, local law enforcement agencies and city leaders joined forces to highlight an issue that’s one of the most pressing facing the Central Valley.
“Domestic violence is about power and control, and that can happen in any demographic,” said Nicole Linder, executive director for the Marjaree Mason Center.
According to Marjaree Mason Center, in 2020 Fresno County law enforcement received over 9,000 domestic violence calls.
The city of Fresno has the highest domestic violence calls per capita in California according to the data.
“What we did see was an increase in the severity of the violence experienced and I think you’re seeing that matriculate in the number of homicides we’ve had,” said Linder.
Within the past two months, Clovis Police Department has responded to two instances of domestic violence-related homicides.
“It’s happening on an everyday basis, even in Clovis which is commonly referred to as the safest city in the Valley,” explained Lt. Jim Munro with the Clovis Police Department. “Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anybody.”
The first incident occurred in September where two people were hospitalized, and one person died.
The other occurred in early October when a woman was found dead in a driveway having been shot in the head.
Investigators say the suspect in that shooting died after turning the gun on himself. Officials from the Clovis Police Department said it appeared to be an “act of domestic violence.”
In May 2020, Julio Garay killed his wife Calley in Madera while she was shielding her children from gunfire. Garay was found guilty of first-degree murder.
Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza, spoke at Thursday’s event saying domestic violence calls are some of the toughest calls to which police have to respond.
“The word afraid should never come out of your mouth when you’re in love with someone,” said Linder.
The event featured 24 minutes of prayer, a poignant number. Statistics show a person becomes the victim of domestic violence every 24 minutes.
If you or a loved one needs help you can contact The Marjaree Mason Center’s 24-hour crisis hotline at (559) 233-4357.