HOUSTON (AP) — Domestic violence cases have sharply increased in Texas in recent years.
Figures from the state Department of Public Safety show more than 214,000 wives, husbands, girlfriends and others were injured or died in 2016 at the hands of a family member. The statistics show that's an increase from about 193,000 in 2011.
In Houston, local police report they received more than 24,000 domestic violence cases in the first 10 months of this year.
That's a 45 percent increase over a similar period in 2013, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"We continue to underestimate the reach and devastation of domestic violence," said Gloria Aguilera Terry, chief executive of the Texas Council on Family Violence.
The Houston Police Department operates a special-victims division and has been posting special-crimes officers at women's shelters across the city to help victims more easily report cases of domestic violence, said Capt. David Angelo, who oversees the division. Angelo said that domestic violence investigations are an "absolute priority."
"We recognize a husband who batters his wife may be a murderer tomorrow," he said.
The gunman in the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs had a history of domestic violence.
Investigators found that Devin Patrick Kelley had been given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force after pleading guilty to assaulting his first wife and stepson.
Victim advocates said the shooting is an example of how domestic violence often will spill out into public spaces.