66°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Las Vegas has a domestic violence problem, but you can help

I’m mad, Las Vegas. You should be, too.

I don’t know how to emphasize it more than I already have, in previous columns, in the many articles my co-workers and I have written: Domestic violence is a critical issue in our community.

Sound the alarm and shout it from the rooftops, because we need to do something.

In the last two weeks, at the county courthouse, I’ve covered three domestic death cases. First was the sentencing of David Dinunzio, who strangled his mother. Then came the sentencing of Mason Fritz, who stabbed his father.

And on Thursday, Lisa Hollopeter, 35, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter instead of murder for shooting her boyfriend. Prosecutors extended the plea deal in part because her boyfriend was abusive, her attorney said.

Those are just homicides. Check the TV screens displaying courtroom dockets at the Regional Justice Center any day of the week and you will see, at least once a day, a case involving some sort of domestic violence charge. Oftentimes there are several.

The handful of murder-suicides that rocked headlines this summer never even made the boards, because the victims and their killers both ended up dead, erased from the community’s collective memory.

We are one of the worst cities and worst counties in the country for domestic violence. Do you care?

“The biggest question that I get is: Why? Why is it so bad here?” Liz Ortenburger, the CEO of Safe Nest, the state’s largest domestic violence charity, told me this week. “As a community, we could invest some pretty good research dollars as to why it’s so bad here. But until then, those of us that work in the domestic violence field are wondering what we can do.”

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police Department honored 21 people who died because of domestic violence between July 31, 2016, and June 30. Last year, a similar event honored 32 victims.

“From a societal perspective, I think the first question is why doesn’t the victim leave?” Ortenburger said. “Really, what we have is a situation where a batterer uses power and control to get what they want from the victim. The point in which a victim is murdered is generally when they are trying to leave.”

But you’ve heard that before, right? I know I have. Yet the problem persists.

“Most of us have somebody in our lives who is being affected by domestic violence, and either we’re not noticing or we don’t know how to help,” she said.

As a third party, you can always call the domestic violence hotline, 702-646-4981, to report what you’ve seen or heard and ask for suggestions or resources.

You can also donate clothes, shoes and small appliances to Safe Nest, which will send a donation truck to you if you call 702-257-3800.

If you are seeking help, Metro is working with several organizations to open the collaborative Family Justice Center by Jan. 1. It will serve as a one-stop shop for everything related to sexual assault and domestic violence. There, victims will be able to report incidents or anonymously get referrals for counseling and therapy.

Metro also is launching a pilot program called “Project 417” — the dispatch code for a domestic incident. The program sends a volunteer domestic violence advocate to each domestic call, all hours of the day.

“Once the scene is safe,” Ortenburger said, “then our advocates would have access to whoever lodged the call, to just sit with them, to do that advocate work, which a lot of times is just listening.”

That’s because victims often feel isolated.

Don’t be afraid to lend them your ear.

Vegas Vice runs every other Saturday. Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
THE LATEST
Sorry doesn’t bring back lives lost to drunken driving

The only person who can prevent the possibility of death and prison from a DUI is the one under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Get a ride, or take a cab.

Think you’re being targeted in a theft scheme? Call 311

Staged auto accidents recently led to the arrests of three suspects in a theft scheme. Potential victims who find themselves in similar situations should immediately call 311, a police spokesman said.

Higher crime rate is ‘new normal’ for Las Vegas Valley

Columnist Rachel Crosby says higher crime rates should make readers angry, not just for the sake of being mad but as a call to action — to be more aware of their surroundings and more vocal in their communities.

Pool safety tips from a reporter who almost drowned

“Drowning doesn’t look like anything. It’s silent,” Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Larry Hadfield told me this week. “When someone drowns, they’re taking in water. There’s no screaming.”

Las Vegas dispatcher weighs in on when you should call 911

“Most people don’t normally have to call the police,” a dispatcher said. “So when they do, it’s an emergency for them, and they’ll call 911 instead of 311.”

Reflecting on Sherrice Iverson’s death, 20 years later

Las Vegas Review-Journal crime reporter Rachel Crosby never knew Sherrice Iverson, but after spending months researching her 1997 murder, she’ll never forget her.