INDIANAPOLIS — A memorial has started to grow where a woman was murdered Friday morning while dropping her kids off at day care on the near west side of Indianapolis. Police believe it was a domestic violence-related incident.
"If he had been locked up, this wouldn't have happened," said Danyette Smith, program director of the Indianapolis Domestic Violence Prevention Program.
Friday's tragedy has domestic violence survivors and advocates feeling hurt and angry.
"It's hard for you to tell a victim to reach out to the system, and they see the system releasing these people, letting these abusers go. That's hard," Smith said.
The suspect in the shooting, Orlando Mitchell, is being held on two active warrants for domestic violence.
One of those comes from a March 2021 incident involving the strangulation of a pregnant woman. He was charged with strangulation, domestic battery and criminal confinement.
He pleaded guilty to domestic battery, served one day in jail and was put on probation. As part of the plea agreement, he was to have no contact with the woman and was given 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling.
He was shot by police Friday in downtown Indianapolis after refusing to put down a rifle hours after the shooting at the day care.
Smith believes the woman was failed by the system.
"With so many cases being dismissed in the city for domestic violence, there are so many cases where there's probation, and all there's offered is a battered intervention class. It has to be more. This has to be taken seriously, the same as any gun violence incident," Smith said.
Smith doesn't want this event to discourage domestic violence victims from getting protection orders against abusers or reaching out to advocates for help.
"Still call me, pick up the phone. Let's do this together. Let's talk to these detectives together. I'll write these letters with you to the prosecutor. I'll hold your hand all the way through," Smith said.
She said right now, the community needs to focus on coming together to heal and advocate for more support for domestic violence survivors.
"Everyone who is connected to this day care or connected to this individual is affected by this," Smith said.
PHOTOS: Memorial grows outside day care where woman was shot, killed
Community members plan to hold a vigil for the victim Sunday at 5 p.m. in front of the church.
If you need help, you can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.