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Shooting outside Dunn hospital brings attention to domestic violence

Posted November 12, 2007
Updated October 17, 2008

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— The shooting of a young mother, allegedly by her estranged husband, has domestic violence awareness advocates asking why more can’t be done to protect women.

Joaquin Rangel Ramirez, 34, was supposed to drop off his two daughters, 1 and 2 years old, at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital, where his wife worked, at around 8 p.m. Saturday.

Instead, he approached Azucena Diaz, 28, in an employee parking lot and shot her twice in the chest and once in the head, police said.

Diaz was airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where she was upgraded Monday from critical condition.

Last week, Diaz was issued an emergency protection order from Ramirez, according to Captain Eric Pope, with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office.

The order was scheduled to expire Tuesday. Sampson County domestic violence deputies planned to get it extended. The couple had been estranged for about three months.

“Initially, I think what we as a community could have done to help her more,” domestic violence awareness advocate Tonya Gray, with SAFE Harnett County, said.

Gray said leaving an abusive relationship is no less dangerous than staying in one.

“A victim can do everything right that doesn't guarantee that they'll be safe,” Gray said.

Police said Ramirez had been harassing Diaz.

It is not yet known if Ramirez had a criminal record. Police also won't know if he was in the country legally until they get fingerprints.

“Where he is now we have no idea,” Dunn Police Chief B.P. Jones said.

Ramirez fled the hospital parking lot in a Cadillac Escalade with the children, prompting authorities to issue an Amber Alert. The children were recovered at a relative's home in Fayetteville by 8:30 a.m. Sunday. They were unharmed and likely dropped off there by Ramirez, Jones said.

The Escalade was found at about 4:45 p.m. Monday at 118 Rod St. in Fayetteville.

Police said they believe Ramirez could be headed for Mexico where he has family.

Officers are working with immigration officials and have requested that border patrol be notified about the search for Ramirez.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ramirez is asked to call the Dunn Police Department at 910-892-2399 or 910-892-2345.


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  • Cable Nov 13, 2007

    What can be done Hmm nothing can be done to protect anyone from anbody. Unless wait no I dare say PROTECT yourself rely on no one else. Learn to fire a gun and keep it concealed that is your only way. That Pepper spray most carry on key chains only works in movies. If you do carry a weapon on you Women Do not I repeat DO NOT carry it in you purse. A purse can be taken away and they size of the purse you'll more likey be digging around for it. No matter how much paper work you fill out, it does nothing to protect you at all. It is a safety blanket with holes.

  • parr4246 Nov 13, 2007

    Why was someone not there with her when she was meeting with him.......hospital security? a friend? Dunn Police?

  • tmedlin Nov 13, 2007

    Gun control would have protected her - a sharp eye and a steady hand!

  • aquamama Nov 13, 2007

    Do some of you really blame this woman for what happened to her? Who's to say this man was violent or abusive before they had children? Maybe this was the first time it happened. Abuse can happen all of a sudden or it can get worse gradually. What was she supposed to do? It sounds like she did what she could to protect herself, while still giving her children contact with their father and without overreacting. She couldn't predict that he would go COMPLETELY off the deep end. And she should not be judged by someone else's actions.

    If I misinterpreted some of the comments, my bad.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 13, 2007

    Why would someone wish harm on the mother of their children is beyond my comprehension.

    Unfortunately, very little can be done to prevent violence of any kind.

    Having children with an abusive partner/ex-partner only complicates matters.

    My prayers are for this family!

  • renee1dat71 Nov 13, 2007

    If her protective order contained the same conditions as most, then she was more than likely ordered to meet him at her work for drop off and pick up of the children so as to only be near him in a public place. Why is anyone blaming the victim here? How about why did the offender still have the right to visitation? Remeber she did not go meet him at his place of employment, she did not go anywhere near him! He was dropping the kids off to her at her place of employment! Where she has to go to feed her children. Again, I don't even get your comment, why in the world blame a victim for getting shot?

  • AKA PikeMom Nov 13, 2007

    Last week, Diaz was issued an emergency protection order from Ramirez.
    >>> It doesn't appear that she felt trully dangered if she was meeting up with him.She got he "order",but then went against it.???? How do you save these people,who are not willing to help save themselves.

  • Adelinthe Nov 13, 2007

    "Shooting Outside Dunn Hospital Brings Attention to Domestic Violence"

    As it always does when in the current limelight, but sadly, in a week or two, all will be forgotten - except for the family.

    Praying for her loved ones and for her children.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • richard2 Nov 13, 2007

    You can't depend on the police to protect you 24/7. Do whatever you need to keep someone from killing you. Learn what to do and stay alive.

  • cook Nov 13, 2007

    What happened with just getting a divorce.