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Pandemic, gun violence spike continue into Domestic Violence Awareness month

Posted at 11:06 PM, Oct 04, 2020

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that the Hamilton County Court of Domestic Relations was shut down and saw no domestic violence cases. However, cases involving domestic violence were seen daily. WCPO regrets the error.

On Friday, as Domestic Violence Awareness month had barely begun, gunfire rang out at a home in Boone County, leaving a three-year-old boy shot and 32-year-old Tiffany Kidwell dead. They were both allegedly shot by a man police said Kidwell had an active protective order against.

Police found Kidwell dead and the toddler shot in the driveway of a residence in Walton, Ky. Another child, a six-year-old, was also found at the scene but wasn't hurt.

Sheriff's deputies arrested 34-year-old John Gentry and have charged him with domestic violence, attempted murder, first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree robbery, violation of a Kentucky emergency protection order and fleeing or evading police on foot.

On Sunday night, Lt. Philip Ridgell with the Boone County Sheriff's Office said the three-year-old would survive, but was still experiencing lots of pain. The shooting was a result of a domestic violence incident, he said.

"As far as relation, I won't get into that right now," Ridgell said Friday night. "But what I will say is that the children were present when everything took place up at the residence. It happened into the driveway."

Although Kidwell had an active protection order filed against Gentry, advocates against domestic violence said that's rarely enough to guarantee someone protection.

"The difficult part is that, of course, a protection order is a piece of paper, right?" said Danielle Firsich, with the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. "It also can be something that can set off the abuser."

The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for victims of domestic violence to feel they can leave their abusers. Calls for help from domestic violence spiked in late March, as many states shut down and issued stay-at-home orders as a result of the pandemic.

In addition, the Greater Cincinnati region is on track to see its deadliest year in history, with homicides and gun violence spiking in tandem with the pandemic. Cincinnati police said there have been 68 homicides in the city so far this year. There were 53 homicides after the first eight months of 2019, according to Cincinnati police data.

The issue of domestic violence, or homicides that result from domestic abuse, isn't unique to the pandemic. In 2019, an annual survey found 81 people died in domestic violence confrontations in Ohio during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2019, including 53 victims and 28 perpetrators.

Amid the current landscape, Firsich said it's important to be on the lookout for those in need of support, and to remind every survivor there are resources in their community and people standing by ready to help.

"You don't have to have a plan," said Firsich. "You don't even have to know what you want to do in that situation. I think a lot of times people just need to speak to someone about it who they can trust, who is going to believe them, who is going to affirm them."

The YWCA of Greater Cincinnati plans to host a number of virtual events throughout October to raise awareness for the issue of domestic assault.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can reach out to any of the organizations listed below for help:

Women Helping Women
Call or Text 24-Hour Hotline

YWCA Greater Cincinnati
24-Hour YWCA Hamilton County Domestic Violence Hotline
LOCAL: 513-872-9259
TOLL FREE: 888-872-9259
TEXT: 513-436-3606

Women's Crisis Center
Northern KY 24-Hour Crisis Line: 800.928.3335
Maysville, KY 24-Hour Crisis Line: 800.928.6708