Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Tidal Wave of Grief

Posted August 1, 2007

They say losing a child is the worst tragedy a parent can ever experience- Fran Bumgarner says losing a grandchild is equally as devastating.

Bumgarner clutches the photographs of her two-and-a-half year old grandson, Kendall,  lovingly as if she were holding the actual child in her hands.  In one picture he is hugging his mother, Cordae.   In the photograph he is wearing a "Shrek" hat that his mother has just given him.  They are also wearing light-up-the-room smiles.  This picture makes Bumgarner smile too, but just as quickly as the smile comes over her it is erased by what she calls a "tidal wave of grief."

Kendall and Cordae were shot and killed by Alan Gates in Orange County in July 2002 along with his daughter, Valerie Gates.  They were not originally his intended targets, but they were killed in the middle of someone else's domestic violence tirade.  Gates had a long history of domestic violence.  He violated multiple protective orders, but never spent a night in jail until he was charged with murder.

Bumgarner is trying to get a law passed that would make it a felony for someone to violate a domestic violence protective order more than once.  She calls  House Bill 44  "a lifesaving law."  It didn't pass in this session, but she is hopeful that it will pass in the short session coming up in the spring of 2008.

Kendall would be seven-and-a-half years old if he were alive today, but to Bumgarner he will always be a bubbly toddler- one who is easily made happy with simple things like a paper "Shrek" hat.   Bumgarner will continue to fight for  House Bill 44 .  She will also continue to ride the tidal wave of grief that she hopes someday will lead her to a more peaceful shore- a place where domestic violence doesn't exist.


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  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Aug 2, 2007

    WOW...What a tough issue, it does appear to be clear in this case, unfortunately I'm afraid thi type bill might throw a WIDE net. What would be considered violating a protective order? what if you just happen to go to the same store 2 times and walk down the same isle? Sure, some will say that is being silly, but the reality is that would make someone now a felon!! Domestic issues will always be touchy, but MOST of the time, they don't end up like this tragedy did, only the ones you see in the news do.

  • COPs eye Aug 2, 2007

    Unfortunately as tough as the domestic violence laws are a good attorney, over crowded jails and prisons, a defendent's standing in the community and favors owed get those charges reduced. It would be a perfect world if DA's prosecuted for the crimes a person commits but they don't. Too many repeaters are getting off these days and continuing to go back to jail and get back out and commit the same offense. You want a solution to protective order violators...look at the judges and the courts. More laws don't stop the violence only punishment for committing crimes does. My condolences to the family for their loss.

  • CestLaVie Aug 2, 2007

    Good luck to you Fran Bumgarner. This bill sounds like an important one. I have always wondered why those who violate these protective orders seem to, excuse the pun, "get away with murder"!!

    But, if our legislators do anything next year like this current session, it will be the last moment of the last hour of the last day before HB 44 may even be discovered as being worthy to be voted upon. They'll spend all session talking about & studying & voting on fluff & letting lobbyists bend their ear before something important (maybe) happens at the final moment, for the people they represent.

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