Raleigh, N.C. — A Cary woman who police say was shot to death by her ex-husband in Raleigh's Cameron Village had been so afraid of him at one point that she went into hiding, according to claims she made in court documents.
Investigators said Tuesday that Christopher John Bertrand, 42, of Hoover, Ala., shot Kathleen Ann Bertrand, 41, of 107 D-2 North Woods Village Drive, several times with a handgun as she reported to work at Pier 1 Imports on Daniels Street around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Christopher Bertrand killed himself hours later behind a business about a mile away, ending a daylong search for a gunman that caused 14 local schools to go on lockdown and at least 10 stores in the shopping center to temporarily close.
In a motion for a domestic violence protective order filed Nov. 17, 2010, Kathleen Bertrand claimed that her then-estranged husband showed up unexpectedly at her home on the night of Oct. 17, 2010, followed her around the house and asked her about phone calls she had been making.
It scared her enough that she left with her three children – now ages 13, 11 and 7 – a few days later and remained out of the house until Nov. 15, 2010.
"I was so shaken up by his erratic behavior and knowing that he was watching me that I left town for two weeks," Kathleen Bertrand said in the filing. "I am too scared to go home with my children."
According to the same motion, Kathleen Bertrand said Christopher Bertrand was under investigation with child protective services and, although he had agreed not to have contact with his children, tried to see them daily.
He had also threatened to commit suicide.
"He has said he has nothing to live for if he can't be with his children," Kathleen Bertrand said. "He told my mom that she would never see him again."
The couple had married in December 1992, and Kathleen Bertrand, who practiced law, put her career on hold to raise their son and two daughters and homeschool them.
Longtime friend Lisa Beyer, of New Orleans, said that if there's only one thing Kathleen Bertrand should be remembered for, it's the love she had for the kids.
"She's an amazing woman who always worried about others more than herself," Beyer said Tuesday. "She's always been focused on helping others – a very selfless and loving person."
As the couple headed for divorce in October 2010, Christopher Bertrand sought custody of the children.
In a December 2010 petition, he said he had taken a job in Memphis but that his wife refused to move there with the children.
He eventually moved back to Knightdale and dropped the custody fight.
The Knightdale home the couple had shared eventually went into foreclosure.
Christopher Bertrand moved to an apartment in Hoover, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham, and Kathleen Bertrand and the children moved to Cary. Friends said she didn't tell her ex-husband where they were living or that she had taken a job at Pier 1.
Yet, as she showed up to work Monday morning, Christopher Bertrand was there to meet her.
A witness reported in a 911 call seeing him get into a car with his ex-wife before hearing gunshots.
According to Interact of Wake County, a nonprofit that promotes domestic violence awareness and services for victims, Kathleen Bertrand's death marks the fifth domestic-violence homicide in Wake County since May.
It was also the second in as many weeks.
Police say Agata Flipska Vellotti, 43, was killed by her estranged husband, Mario Vellotti, outside a north Raleigh apartment complex on Aug. 30 after returning home from walking their 6-year-old son to school.
The couple had been going through a contentious child custody battle, and Agata Vellotti had also sought domestic violence protection against her husband, claiming he kept her from having friends and a cellphone and kept her from attending church.
In response to Agata Vellotti's death and to raise community awareness about domestic violence and how victims can get help, the Wake County Domestic Violence Task Force has planned a silent march for noon Wednesday outside the Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street.
Another march will be planned to remember Kathleen Bertrand, InterAct spokeswoman Christina Brewer said Tuesday.
According to the North Carolina Council for Woman, North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation in homicides committed by men against women.
So far this year, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence says there have been 45 domestic-violence homicides this year, including Kathleen Bertrand.
Last year, there were 106 in the state – four in Wake County – according to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.