HOUSTON - In a 24-hour span, Harris County saw three domestic violence homicides, and it may only get worse as we enter the holiday season.
On Thanksgiving night, just before 9:30 p.m., 38-year-old Yonetsy Montriel Granado allegedly went on a shooting spree inside a Spring Branch home. He hit four people, killing his ex-wife and one other.
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Just before noon the next day, 22-year-old Lashawn Gray was killed by her ex-boyfriend on Point Park Lane and only a few hours later on Kendal Ridge Lane, a man upset about his divorce was shot to death after he showed up at the house of his estranged wife.
"Unfortunately, I’m not surprised," said Maisha Colter, the CEO of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA). "There has been a significant rise in the number of domestic violence incidences in Harris County, and unfortunately the number of homicides have increased year over year."
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Colter says in 2020 the county logged 37 domestic violence homicides, and 46 in 2021.
This year, she says she's aware of at least 70, adding, "I am very discouraged. We have a lot of work to do in our community in terms of letting people understand how significant it is. Domestic violence is very, very unfortunately common."
Statistics show it gets worse over the holiday season.
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"Sometimes those close quarters and those close dynamics bring on the level of stress that we’re not equipped to deal with," said Colter.
However, she believes change is possible. "What I want to see happen when we have these stories is that we as a community understand how lethal it is and how risky it is and help to be a change factor for people."
It can start with just reaching out for help and there are ways to safely plan an exit. Organizations like AVDA, the Houston Area Women’s Shelter, and others are hoping with education and awareness victims feel empowered enough to do so.
"If in fact they reach out and make that step to say I need help, there is help available," Colter said.
If you are in need of immediate help, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 713-528-2121.