Two Dallas police cars were parked in front of the home where officers say 34-year-old Alexica Stevenson Gates shot and killed 9-year-old Milani Metoyer before fatally shooting herself.
Detectives say Gates and her husband had been drinking and began to argue early Monday morning.
Police say he called 911 and walked outside the home, but two children were still inside.
During an hours-long standoff with the SWAT team, a 12-year-old boy escaped.
Police say they entered the home after Gates fired at them.
They found the mother and daughter dead.
Dallas police say they have seen an increase in cases of domestic violence in the last three months.
In February, DPD worked 918 cases of domestic violence. In March, the number went up to 1,169 and in April the number of cases reached 1,202.
It is hard to pinpoint one cause of the increase, said Lt. Pollyanna Ashford, who leads the department’s domestic violence unit.
“We talk to the victims, we talk to the offenders, we talk to the witnesses. We get an opportunity to hear every day what’s going on and what they’re going through,” Ashford said.
“They’re not going to say, ‘Yes, COVID was a reason’…or ‘This is why I beat up my girlfriend,’ or ‘This is why I hit my wife.’” Ashford explained. “They’re not going to say that.”
While Ashford said detectives have been hearing the same reasons for incidents of domestic violence that they’ve always heard – financial strain, infidelity, child custody issues, drugs and alcohol – she does believe the added stress of shelter-in-place orders and job losses are likely reasons for the increase in cases.
Alex Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Texas at Dallas studied DPD’s data and says there appears to be a correlation.
He says domestic violence cases increased by 12.5% right around March 22, when Dallas County announced a stay-at-home order, compared to the three weeks before that date.
“We saw a significant spike in the first two weeks after the stay-at-home order took effect compared to the period of time before that,” he said.
“Right at the same time people were losing their jobs, people couldn’t see their friends, they couldn’t go to the doctors. If they had therapist meetings, they couldn’t attend those things, and you had stresses of finances,” Piquero explained.
“It’s probably all of those things compounded at one time.”
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it had no prior investigations involving Gates and the children, but she had previously been arrested on family violence charges.
DFPS said the 12-year-old boy is being placed with a family member.
Dallas Police released a public service announcement reminding victims of resources available.
“The most important thing I really want to get out to the community and victims is to let people know they’re not in this alone,” Ashford said. “I never want anyone to think they’re in this alone.”
Brighter Tomorrows 972-262-8383
Genesis Shelter 214-942-2998
Mosaic Family Services 214-823-4434
New Beginnings 972-276-0057
Salvation Army 214-424-7208
The Family Place 214-941-1991
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE.