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General News    H4'ed 1/9/16

If You Try To Leave Me I'll Kill You--Armed and Dangerous Partners

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It happened on Black Friday 2014 at the Nordstrom's store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, nestled between the Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building and Trump International Hotel & Tower . Horrified shoppers watched as store employee Nadia Ezaldein was shot in the head as she worked at the accessories counter by estranged ex-boyfriend Marcus Dee who then turned the gun on himself. Ezaldein was a 22-year-old University of Chicago student who had dated the gunman. Black Friday was her birthday. She died the next day.

Like many who kill intimate partners, Dee was known as a loose cannon and a bully. In 2007, a woman who had dated him sought an order of protection from him but did not follow through, not wanting to escalate the situation. "He would basically threaten your family or threaten your friends," she told the press. Ezaldein's sister corroborated Dee's use of collective punishment threats. "He called the entire family, consistently texting," she recalled and he threatened Ezaldein that he would hurt or kill himself.

Six days before the murder, police confirmed that Dee attacked a friend of Ezaldein's at a party, causing a concussion and broken facial bones and he was due to appear in police line-up.

Like many victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), Ezaldein did not request an order of protection and was reportedly still friendly with Dee. Since Dee was the son of Chicago police officers, some speculate Ezaldein thought an order of protection would go nowhere. But Ezaldein's sister requested an order of protection from Dee (ironically in response to an order of protection he sought against her) which claimed that Dee "cracked Ezaldein's ribs, broke her jaw, ripped her clothing, stabbed her jacket with a switch knife, ripped her boots, bruised her lip, threw her clothing out the window and put a gun in her mouth." Judges denied both protection orders the day they were filed.

While the Michigan Avenue Nordstrom's was tidied up and open for holiday shopping the next day, nine months later the same gruesome series of events occurred in another downtown Chicago location. Police say 44-year-old Alma B. Hernandez was murdered in broad daylight at the AmeriCash Loans where she worked, by her live-in boyfriend Richard Idrovo. Only a month earlier, police had been summoned to the couple's Chicago suburban home because of a domestic disturbance caused Hernandez' attempt to leave the relationship.

More than one third of women murdered in the US are killed by male intimate partners and the brazen murders expose several disturbing truths about domestic violence. First, almost everyone--the victim, the victim's family, law enforcement, neighbors, coworkers--can see the murders coming but seem unable to prevent them: restraining orders are either not requested or fail. Second, they do not always occur behind closed doors but can occur in busy places where others become victims. (Between 2011 and 2015, women in six different beauty parlors were shot by irate gunmen seeking to harm their partners--and 17 died. Several of the gunmen were under orders of protection.)

Third, the murders are frequently sparked by a woman trying to exit an abusive relationship. And last, the killers are often legal gun owners despite their hot tempers and histories of domestic abuse. Richard Idrovo, who killed his girlfriend at the AmeriCash Loan store, was even a legal concealed gun carrier. Men can certainly also suffer from IVP though the victims are six times more likely to be women.

Ask law enforcement officers what their most dangerous calls are and they will tell you "DV" or domestic violence because of the extreme, unpredictable emotions. Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, is often associated with drugs and alcohol and sparked by a perpetrator's "abandonment fears" when a partner tries to leave.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by (more...)

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