Fortuna’s Shooting: One More Domestic Violence Victim
When the ex-wife of Russell Allan Kellim left her home to meet him early Wednesday morning outside of her Fortuna gated community, she thought she would be doing a routine custody exchange of their two-year-old daughter. We don’t know what changed her plans but soon after the planned meeting, she returned to her home with her child still strapped safely in the car seat. There, she was shot four times on her front porch by Kellim. After shooting her, Kellim shot himself once in the head. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. His ex-wife was flown to an out-of-the-area hospital where doctors must deal with the effects of a bullet caught in her spine.
Domestic violence issues result in about 7% of the arrests in Humboldt County. In 2013 there were approximately two arrests per day countywide. Brenda Bishop executive director of Humboldt Domestic Violence Services said that, across the country, one in three women are abused and one half of all Native American Women are abused. However, she said, domestic violence victims can be male also.
Bishop said that while she didn’t know the situation between Kellim and his ex-wife, child custody issues can exacerbate domestic violence issues. And she says the courts can compound the issue. “The State of California believes that both parents have rights. Sometimes, the survivor has got to share the child with this person who has been violent towards her— violent towards the children.”
[UPDATE: John Chiv wrote today that Kellim had a child support complaint filed against him and a domestic violence order. See more here.]
Furthermore, Bishop explained the children of partnerships where domestic violence occurred are deeply affected. “Where children are involved, it is a struggle not only for the survivor but for the children,” she said. “They are not mini adults and we forget sometimes what they see and experience.”
Bishop said that her agency and others can help. “We support a survivor when he or she is working through the custody right.” Her agency and others provide a safety net and assistance to the victims whether they are male or female. “When women or men come to our shelter, it is because they don’t have any support,” she said. “It is because their support system has fallen apart. We help recreate a support system for them.” (Here are links to Places to Get Help Locally including Bishop’s agency.)
The first step to improving what Bishop calls a “crisis” in domestic violence issues, she believes is “as a community we need to bring domestic violence out of the closet.” Talking about the problem, bringing awareness to the large numbers of domestic violence victims, she said will support victims seeking help, and will encourage people seeing abuse to intervene.
Whatever the facts of the Kellim incident, for the sake of victims like his ex-wife and little girl, we need to be aware of the warning signs of abuse and we need to speak up when we see them. (See graphic below.)
See graphic below for signs of abuse: