Local News

Fayetteville remembers victims of domestic violence

Posted October 23, 2014 7:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2014 7:37 p.m. EDT

— October is Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness Month, and outside the Cumberland County Courthouse Thursday afternoon a group of about 100 people gathered for a vigil in remembrance of the 108 women, men and children in North Carolina this year who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

One of the biggest cases in the county happened July 30 when, authorities say, Andrew Jay Michealis fired several rounds into a home on New Moon Drive, killing his wife's father and nephew.

"That's when it turned into a real tragedy, because he brought a gun with him," Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Thursday.

"As a result of shooting into the trailer, a 10-year-old lost his life and the grandfather lost his life."

The violence didn't stop there. Michaelis returned to the home three times and fired more than 60 rounds from an AR-15. He wounded five deputies before being killed in a shootout with authorities.

Authorities say Michaelis had no history of violence.

"Family arguments can just turn into something violent in a very short period of time," Butler said.

Less than a week later, there was another act of domestic violence in Eureka Springs, where 22-year-old Gerald Marr wounded his girlfriend, killed her mother and 14-year-old brother before taking his own life.

"Between 30 and 40 percent of our calls going out into the county are domestic-related," Butler said. "As a result, these domestic situations can turn into violence, as we've seen, where we've had lives lost."

The vigil outside the Cumberland County Courthouse, organizers said, was about remembering all those who lost their lives. It's also about prayers and support for family members left behind.

Angela Tolerson is a victim who shared her story with the crowd. She says events like Thursday's are important.

“It's very important, because (victims0 need to know they're not alone. There are other people out there who have gone through what they're going through," she said. "They have to know there is an ending and that they have hope."