Domestic violence numbers increased in 2016 in Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are learning more about the latest domestic violence-related death in Chatham County this year.

When Savannah-Chatham Metro officers responded to the 911 call from Grove Point Road on Friday afternoon, they found 30-year-old Amber Welch shot to death inside.

Police also found Edward Jerome Greene in another room of the home with what they believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The numbers of victims coming into the SAFE Shelter in Savannah are on pace to surpass last year's, and Friday's murder-suicide marks the seventh domestic violence-related homicide this year. That's up from last year. The executive director of the SAFE Shelter in Savannah says, going by memory, the now seven domestic violence-related deaths in Savannah is the highest in recent history.

Police say they believe the two found dead on Friday in the home off Grove Point Road were in a relationship.

In 2015, the SAFE Shelter saw 813 victims of domestic violence, a number advocates at the shelter expect to pass by the year's end.

The executive director explains her theory behind the rising numbers of victims coming forward.

"We've been very aggressive the past two years with our awareness activities. And I don't know if that has anything to do with more people coming in the shelter, but we don't want to lose momentum," said SAFE Shelter Executive Director Cheryl Branch.

As with too many other domestic violence-related homicides this year, Branch says the shelter never heard from the victim of Friday's murder-suicide off Grove Point Road before the incident.

But the numbers of victims coming to the shelter are growing. Occupancy stayed steady over the holiday weekend, reversing the trend of victims going home for the holidays.

Branch says one of the main focuses next year will be to reach out to police and other emergency agencies in Chatham County's other communities to increase exposure and domestic violence awareness.

"I want to see that in all of the outlying communities, municipalities, and the same thing with the emergency departments. I think that would be huge because I think we would catch more victims that way," said Branch.

Branch says she's also hoping to connect to businesses around the county to offer domestic violence awareness workshops.

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