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'Let's do this together': Indianapolis director saddened, but not discouraged in pursuit to help domestic violence survivors

Advocates for survivors of abuse say the system failed a woman killed Friday outside a day care. Now, they're more determined than ever to help survivors in Indy.

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.

RELATED: Man accused of day care shooting has history of domestic violence against mother of his son

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.

Credit: WTHR
A memorial has started to grow outside of the school where the woman was shot and killed on Friday.

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. 

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.

RELATED: Woman killed in shooting at day care on Indy's near west side; police shoot suspect downtown

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