One day before Andres Vargas shot his wife Bonnie with an assault rifle, San Antonio police contacted Vargas and told him to leave his wife alone, but did not arrest him for violating Bonnie’s protective order.
Last year, all officers were told to secure arrest warrants immediately for most family violence suspects, including those who commit an assault or threaten to commit an imminent one. Yet each time that Bonnie Vargas called police to report that her ex-husband had violated the protective order — filed as a condition of the couple’s divorce Aug. 6 — police did not arrest Andres Vargas.
Police spokesman Gabe Trevino said he did not know why officers had not sought the arrest but drew a distinction between violating a protective order and committing family violence.
“A violation of a protective order is not necessarily family violence,” Trevino said. “It’s a disturbance that needs to be followed up on.”
Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services Inc., which runs San Antonio’s battered women’s shelter, disagreed.
“When a protective order has been issued, any attempt to get close to the victim can be taken as a threat, yet another threat,” she said. “If an order has been issued to protect a victim from domestic violence, (then) absolutely” any threat is an instance of family violence.
She added: “It makes me so angry to know that sometimes it’s one step forward and three steps backward. I don’t think that (signs of family violence are) very clear to all the policemen in the force, and some don’t understand what’s at stake for themselves or the victim.”
Complete story: Warning Signs Missed?