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A look at the Garfield Heights double shooting and why domestic violence victims don't speak out

Posted at 9:24 AM, Sep 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-08 09:24:54-04

Nineteen-year-old Giselle Lopez and her brother, 17-year-old Manuel Lopez were shot and killed Wednesday night at their home in Garfield Heights. Authorities said Mathew Nicholson shot them both after an argument with their mother.

Neighbors tell News 5 Nicholson allegedly abused the teen's mother for years, but when we looked into police records there weren't any calls to police about abuse.

"I always first think about the victim, and what they must have been going through in the moments and the days and weeks and months leading up to this," said Leslie Quilt, the chief operating officer at the Domestic Violence and Advocacy Center.

Quilty said it's not uncommon for victims to keep the authorities out of it.

"Absolutely paramount the victim wants to try to stay safe, not only themselves but their family, their children, their loved ones," she said. 

Quilty said even talking about leaving or calling police could potentially lead to further abuse or worse.

"They don't want to face the retaliation or the retaliatory behavior on the part of the abuser," said Quilty. 

Neighbors who live next door said the family had two plans in place in case the abuse got out of control. The the first was to go to the neighbor's house to call the police. The second was to turn on and off a front porch light as a signal if the family couldn't get to a phone.

Although neither plan worked, Quilty said it's important for victims to have one. 

"Its always good to have resources, family friends, neighbors that know that if you're in trouble you can go to them to seek help," Quilty said.