LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The surviving gunshot victim in a Thursday morning shooting at the Willow Creek Apartments had filed an emergency protective order against the suspected shooter Quenton Huddleston in the past.
According to Louisville Metro Police the domestic violence order was still active. In the order, the victim describes numerous violent attacks. She described being attacked with scissors, hammers, and being strangled.
"I am worried that this EPO may not be enough to protect me,” she wrote, “I'm worried what the respondent is going to do when he finds out about this EPO."
The Domestic Violence Order is dated November 2013 and was not expected to terminate until 2016.
According to advocates with the Jefferson County Domestic Violence Intake Center an emergency protection order is typically effective for three years and require a person to stay up to 500 feet away,
Marguerite Thomas is the Director of Legal Justice and Outreach at the Center for Women and Families.
She says emergency protection orders do work most of the time. "The pieces of paper protect at least 80% of the people, if not a little bit more," she says. Thomas says an EPO is most effective if the petitioner/plaintiff takes an active role. She says if victims do not take out charges themselves, they can call police to file them. Victims should call police if their attacker is in violation of the order, she says. Thomas says victims should share their situation with loved ones as well. "If you have children and take a copy to the school, if you tell neighbors, if you tell family, then you have a community that can also help you look out for yourself,” Thomas said.
The Domestic Violence Intake Center is located on the first floor of the Jefferson County Hall of Justice.
It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in need of immediate help. Susan Ely is the Director of the Criminal Division for the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. She says victim’s can discuss legal options with an advocate at the center. "The legal system can be very confusing to victims of domestic violence,” Ely said.
At the Domestic Violence Intake Center, an advocate can help victims know the difference between an EPO and a criminal complaint. "They can file and request an emergency protection order, they can request a criminal complaint or they can request both," Ely said.
“If the violence escalates and the protective order does not work then often times they may try to pursue criminal charges," Ely said. If appears that the Willow Creek shooting victim had tried both measures. Victim advocates say while a protection order does not ensure safety, police can respond much more effectively if there is a protection order in place. "We can never guarantee a victim's safety but we try to help and assist them become safer,” Ely said.
Thomas says "This is just a piece of paper – this piece of paper is not going to keep you 100% safe."
In addition to the legal route, she says it is imperative that victim's advocates explain that part of the protection process is talking about safety planning. "Changing the locks on your house or moving to a different location or moving in with a relative or changing up even how you go about your day,” she says.
Measures such as changing patterns, notifying your neighbors and family members about your attacker, and designating a safe room in your home can be life-saving.
"Research shows that if there is not intervention that most times the violence escalates. We're here to listen, we're here to help and we are here to help them stop the violence,” Ely said.