When Ronald Lee Haskell faced charges Friday in Houston Friday that he fatally shot six members of his ex-wife's family, four of them children, the shackled defendant collapsed twice. The Christian Science Monitor says the case could prove to be an extreme example of the devastating ripple effects of domestic violence. It's a crime that often has been dismissed as a private affair between intimate partners. Increasingly, advocates and law enforcement officials are teaming up to show that some dangerous situations can be identified and prevented. “These are among the most predictable of homicides and therefore are the most preventable,” says Toni Troop of Jane Doe Inc., a Massachusetts coalition against domestic violence.
These cases are preceded by a “history and pattern of domestic violence,” she says. In many states, people who have been charged with domestic violence, as Haskell previously was, can still legally access guns. There are also legal loopholes that allow access to guns even for people who have had restraining orders taken out against them. Red flags in the Texas case include the fact that not only Haskell's ex-wife, but also his mother had requested restraining orders against him. Haskell's mother accused him of choking her and threatening to kill her and others about a week before the alleged murders.