Syracuse's latest homicide highlights a growing problem with domestic violence in the city, says Police Chief Frank Fowler.
Chief Fowler tells CNY Central the number of assaults in the city is up, and more than 40-percent are domestic related. Officers have already responded to more than 8,000 domestic calls this year.
Friday, Police say 43-year-old Carmen Valle stabbed her boyfriend 64-year-old Hector Sepulveda Medina. Valle is charged with manslaughter and criminal possesion of a weapon.
The stabbing happened on Shonnard Street just after 11 pm Friday and the victim died an hour later at the hospital. Police say the couple were at their home playing dominoes and after friends left they got into an argument. Police say the argument spilled out onto the street and that Valle went back in the home got a knife and then went outside and stabbed her boyfriend in the chest. The couple's 9-year-old child was in the home when the stabbing happened, police say.
Police say the couple had a history of numerous domestic disputes. "This case brings to the attention of domestic violence in general and we've discovered we have an issue with domestic violence in the city," Chief Fowler said. "We have people out there getting arrested multiple times for domestic related issues. We want to identify those people and treat them in a special way so we can try to drive down these acts of domestic violence."
The homicide, unlike most domestic violence incidents that are reported, had a woman aggressor. "Anyone can be abusive and aggressive. It is different but it happens," said Raheem Mack with the Vera House. He says of the perpetrators Vera House deals with, only 6 percent are women. Mack says combatting domestic violence is about changing our culture, and behavior.
Chief Fowler says they work with VERA House to address domestic violence. While officers and the courts deal with the offenders, Vera House steps in to help the victims. The organization provides education and does outreach programs to raise awareness about domestic abuse. Last year, they provided safe shelter for more than 500 victims and counseled more than 700.
"We shelter everyone, men women children it doesn't matter. If you are a fleeing a dangerous situation due to domestic violence, if we have the space we try to get you in," said Tiffany Braley from the Vera House.
This was the eight homicide in the city this year, and the first homicide related to a domestic dispute in Onondaga County this year. Last year, there were three.If you, are someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence you can call Vera House's 24-hour hotline for help (315) 468-3260.