COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Marissa Reynoso's voice was calm at first when she called 911 on New Year's Day, saying her ex-boyfriend was trying to break in through a window. It was her third plea for help in the weeks since he threatened suicide and told her "I'll see you in heaven."
But about 40 seconds into Sunday's call, a voice screamed "he's got a gun!" For the next several minutes, the emergency operator unsuccessfully tried to get her back to the phone. Deputies arrived about a minute after they were dispatched, but by then, she and her children were already dead.
Jorge Chavez, 25, shot his way through the back door of the West Columbia home, shooting his 26-year-old former girlfriend several times in the chest, their 3-year-old son in the back and their 1-year-old daughter in the chest before killing himself with a gunshot to the head, Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said in a statement late Tuesday night.
The bodies were all found in a bedroom of the home and it appeared Reynoso had no time to try to hide or lock herself inside the room after Chavez broke in, Lexington County Sheriff's Capt. Adam Myrick said.
For more than a decade, South Carolina has had some of the highest rates of domestic violence killings in the nation. Sunday's deaths follow a pattern of frequent, disturbing threats and unwanted visits by men who physically and mentally abuse their former partners.
Reynoso and Chavez broke up in October after five years together. She first called 911 about her ex-boyfriend on Nov. 14, telling Lexington County deputies that Chavez threatened to kill himself, showed her a rope in his passenger seat and said "I can't do this anymore. I'll see you in heaven" before driving off, according to a police report.
Chavez returned unannounced on Dec. 12 after Reynoso agreed to let him see their children. He knocked on her bedroom window asking her to come outside so they could talk. She refused, a police report said.
The gun Chavez used was reported stolen in the town of Clinton several years ago. Deputies aren't sure how Chavez got it, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said in a statement.
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