Couple's past reveals violent trend

Christopher Justice
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A woman is in critical condition after a shooting outside an Indianapolis daycare, and her ex-husband is a suspect.

Eyewitness News has learned that Shirley and Christopher Justice were in the midst of a custody battle. A Department of Child Services investigation revealed Shirley had neglected the couple's child and ultimately, last week, a judge granted full custody of the children to Christopher. The couple's history was a violent one, with Shirley telling police that Christopher had threatened her life.

As troubling as Tuesday morning's crime scene was, it was not completely unpredictable.

"If he's determined to come at you, he's gonna come at you," explained Patricia Chandler of Quest for Excellence, a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence.

Christopher Justice, according to police reports, did track down Shirley Justice on at least three occasions, once after she checked in at the near north side women's shelter in 2007.

Patricia Chandler, who works with victims of domestic abuse, said it's possible to find victims even if the shelter's location is undisclosed.

"You're still paranoid. You're still watching your back. You've still got to go out. You've still got to go to work. You've got to look for housing. You have children, they have to go to it's hard," said Chandler.

Shirley Justice filed for protective orders on numerous occasions. They were granted at least three times. In 2008, after filing for divorce, she told police Christopher threatened to kill her and their daughter if she left him. Orders were also granted in 2010 and most recently two years ago. There was no protective order in place when she was shot this morning.

"That doesn't surprise me," said Julia Kathary, Executive Director of Coburn Place Safe Haven, which provides transitional housing for victims of domestic violence, "because there's such a cycle with domestic abuse."

A cycle of separation and reconciliation. She says even if they aren't always adhered to, protective orders are still an important tool.

"There are certain types of abusers that that will work. And then there's types of abusers that you know, 'if I can't have you no one else will'. They're going to take that power and control to the farthest degree." Said Kathary.

And apparently, that's what happened this morning. Years of domestic violence and an ugly custody battle in the courts boiled over into eight gunshots at a daycare parking lot.