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Fatal shooting after abortion trip raises questions about protections for domestic violence victims

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Gabriella Gonzalez was killed after she reportedly got an abortion. Her death raises questions about how domestic violence victims in Texas are — or aren’t — protected.

Gabriella Gonzalez’s boyfriend allegedly shot her last week after she had gone to Colorado for an abortion. Her death raises questions about how domestic violence victims in Texas are — or aren’t — protected.

Harold Thompson, 22, is accused of killing the 26-year-old Gonzalez in Dallas the day after she returned from that trip. Thompson tried to put Gonzalez in a chokehold before shooting her in the head with a pistol. according to a police affidavit.

The affidavit mentioned that there was already an active family violence strangulation warrant for Thompson’s arrest before Gonzalez was killed. She told police in March that Thompson choked her and beat her multiple times according to another affidavit that was filed April 14.

A felony assault charge related to that incident wasn’t filed until after she’d been killed — about the same time when the murder charges were filed. Dallas police told KERA that the department doesn't file charges with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office until a suspect is arrested.

What happened from the time the arrest warrant was issued and Gonzalez’s death is unclear. Police declined to say more.

KERA also asked police if the department had requested an emergency protective order for Gonzalez but didn’t get an answer. An officer wrote that KERA should file an open records request. The DA’s office said that emergency protective orders are only issued when the suspect is in jail, so Gonzalez wouldn’t been able to obtain one.

State law says people with a protective order filed against them in Texas can’t have a gun. But only a few counties collect and store those firearms — so a lot of alleged abusers end up keeping their weapons.   

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a similar federal law is unconstitutional. The state law is still in effect, but it could also be struck down. The U.S. Attorney General has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling. But that hasn’t happened yet.  

KERA was unable to determine if Gonzalez sought a protective order after she reported that she’d been attacked.

Gonzalez’s sister, Mileny Rubio, told KXAS TV that Gonzalez was ending her relationship with Thompson.

Kathryn Jacob, the president and CEO of SafeHaven Tarrant County,has said in an interview earlier this year that the most dangerous time for victims is when they are trying to leave and the following three months — and that’s why it often takes victims a long time to escape.  

“When people say, why didn't she just leave? It's because it was too dangerous,” Jacob said. “It was more dangerous to leave than it was to stay.”

Guns also increase danger. Mikisha Hooper told KERA in February that the presence of a firearm increases a woman’s chance of being killed by a partner by 500% and threatens her sense of safety. She’s the coordinated community response manager at the Texas Council on Family Violence.

“The presence of firearms often really reinforces survivors’ belief that their lives are in danger, that their partner is capable of killing them,” Hooper said. “And this really reinforces all of the power and control in the relationship.”

Hooper said the number of domestic violence homicides committed with a firearm have nearly doubled the past decade, and 75% of people killed by intimate partners in Texas in 2021 were shot to death. Gonzalez was killed with a pistol.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or get help online at thehotline.org.

Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For Americacorps member for KERA News.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Caroline Love