Health

The Kansas Shooter Has A History Of Domestic Abuse. That Matters.

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Cedric Larry Ford, the gunman who killed four people and injured 12 others in a mass shooting at Excel Industries in Kansas on Thursday night, reportedly has a history of domestic abuse — which fits into a larger pattern when it comes to men who perpetrate violent crimes.

Authorities say that Ford’s shooting spree may have been prompted by a restraining order that prevented him from contacting someone he had abused. About 90 minutes before he first opened fire, Ford received a “protection from abuse” order.

Joyce Grover, the executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, told the Washington Post that these restraining orders are typically issued to keep perpetrators of domestic violence away from their victims.

During a news conference on Friday, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton did not go into further detail about the particular order that Ford received.

But there’s some additional evidence about Ford’s history of abuse. According to a Wichita Eagle report, a woman who identified herself as Ford’s live-in girlfriend filed an order of protection against him earlier this month. The woman said that, after a verbal altercation between the two of them turned violent, Ford attempted to strangle her.

When she petitioned for an order of protection, the woman indicated that Ford was moving out of their place. She also expressed her concerns about Ford’s mental state. “He is an alcoholic, violent, depressed,” she wrote. “It’s my belief he is in desperate need of medical & psychological help!”

Austin McCaskill, one of Ford’s coworkers at Excel, told the Washington Post that she had heard Ford “was having problems, like his girlfriend broke up with him.”

Ford is hardly alone. Another gunman who recently perpetrated a mass shooting — Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic last fall — also had a history of domestic violence. His wife once alleged he hit her in the chest and pushed her out of a window of their home. Later, a neighbor filed a restraining order against him, saying he was making “unwanted advances” and leering at her through her windows.

In fact, domestic violence incidents have been conclusively linked to future violent crimes. Men who hurt their female family members often go on to hurt other people later in life.

According to domestic violence advocates, this is one reason why violence against women should be taken more seriously — particularly considering the fact that, for decades, we operated under a widespread societal assumption that it’s simply normal for men to use force to control their wives.

The timing of Ford’s shooting spree also underlines a common truth about domestic violence: Abusers often lash out violently after their partners attempt to leave them or take legal recourse against them. Experts say this is actually the most dangerous time for domestic violence victims; statistically, separating from an abuser increases a victim’s risk of being killed by 75 percent. That’s exactly what makes it so hard to end the cycle of abuse.

If you need help, you can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).