The woman in an attempted murder-suicide in Clinton Sunday deflected the gun barrel as she was shot at, suffering only powder burns, before Edward Domasinsky turned the gun on himself, police said Monday.
Domasinsky, 55, an organic farmer, shot himself in the face and was listed in serious condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland Monday.
The shooting is the latest case of domestic violence, reports of which are on the rise in Maine.
Late Sunday morning, Domasinsky reportedly fired one shot at Linda Owens, 46, according to a press release from Capt. Dennis Picard of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.
Police did not describe the relationship between Owens and Domasinsky, but called it a case of domestic violence, which Maine law defines as involving a family or household member.
Owens deflected the gun barrel, getting powder burns, and fled the house at 544 Horseback Road, according to the release.
Owens told police that while she fled, she heard the gunshot as Domasinsky shot himself. She ran to another residence about a quarter-mile down the road, where the occupants called the police for help.
She was later taken by Delta Ambulance to Inland Hospital in Waterville, where she was treated and released.
Clinton Police Officer Karl Roy, the first officer on the scene, found Domasinsky sitting in his truck at the residence.
Charges are expected to be filed as the investigation continues, according to Picard.
Reports on the rise
The number of cases of domestic violence reported annually in Maine has increased in recent years.
It can be difficult to know which of the thousands of abusive domestic relationships reported every year will escalate into gunfire or severe injuries, but there are warning signs, experts say.
A total of 5,593 cases were reported in 2012, the most recent year on record with the Maine State Police. In recent years, about half of the state’s yearly 20-25 murders are classified as domestic violence.
Domestic violence is one of the only crimes that increased between 2011 and 2012, a period in which there was a decrease in crime in Maine.
John Morris, commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety, called the 4.5 percent increase between 2011 and 2012 disappointing, especially coming on the heels of a 4.6 increase the previous year.
“It’s my hope that the increase in domestic assaults is because victims are more likely to report the crime because of greater response by law enforcement and the assistance available from many support groups around Maine to help the victims,” Morris said in a statement released with the crime report.
Deborah Shepherd, executive director of the Family Violence Project, said calls to the organization’s help lines have also increased in recent years, but it is difficult to know whether that is the result of increasing amounts of violence, or more awareness of the resource.
Recent cases demonstrate risks
Sometimes, perpetrators of domestic violence are arrested and charged without anyone being seriously injured, as was the case on Dec. 11 in Levant, when police arrested a man who reportedly threatened others with a baseball bat and then engaged in a six-hour standoff with authorities.
Other times, domestic violence becomes lethal.
In Ellsworth, police have charged 30-year-old Chris Saenz in the beating death of his wife, 29-year-old Hillary Saenz, whose body was found in the couple’s apartment on Christmas Day.
Hillary Saenz, whose two preteen children are in the care of relatives, died of blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy report cited by police.
Her death closed out a year in which 11 domestic violence related homicides were recorded in Maine.
Predicting explosive violence
When trying to determine whether an abusive relationship might turn lethal, Family Violence Project workers ask a set of 20 questions, according to Shepherd.
“If there are quite a few yesses on this danger assessment, those would be red flags for people,” Shepherd said.
Among the warning signs are an increase in levels of violence, strangulation attempts, use of a weapon, problem drinking or drug abuse, gun ownership and attempts to force the victim to have sex.
Other signs include things the abuser might say — such as death threats, threats to children in the household and threats of suicide.
Potential signs of extreme violence also include possessive or controlling behavior, such as spying, destruction of property, constant or violent jealousy and controlling friendships and money.
Violence is most likely to happen when the victim is in the process of leaving, or has recently left, the abuser.
Shepherd said there is one question that asks for the victim’s gut reaction.
“Do you believe he is capable of killing you?” it asks.
Shepherd said the answer to ending domestic violence lies in collaboration among many, and strong education programs that prevent the behavior from happening in the first place.
“We believe that it’s going to take a community to end domestic violence,” she said. “Prevention is as important as the services for victims.”
Shepherd encouraged those who are in an abusive relationship or know of someone in an abusive relationship to contact the organization to access help and information. The confidential, toll-free help line is available 24 hours a day at 1-877-890-7788, and information can also be found online at www.familyviolenceproject.org.
Domasinsky is an organic farmer and soil plant specialist who sometimes gave advice to gardeners in the area, according to previous Morning Sentinel reports.
He classified himself on his Facebook page as being “in an open relationship.”
No information was available Monday on Owens.
Attempts to contact the Domasinsky family were unsuccessful.