MINNEAPOLIS - What was once a private matter between a young husband and wife, turned into a very public and deadly ending for all to see Thursday afternoon in Cottage Grove.
And for advocates who help domestic violence victims, it is an ending they've seen before.
"Last year 34 people in Minnesota were killed as a result of domestic violence," said Jen Polzin with Tubman, an organization that provides domestic violence services in the state.
In the case of Tensia and Chevel Richard, police say about two weeks ago the couple separated and she was about to file for divorce.
Witnesses say Richard shot his wife inside a Jimmy John's in Cottage Grove and then turned the gun on himself.
"Often times someone is preparing to leave it can be the most dangerous time for them," she said.
Polzin says Tubman gets 20,000 crisis calls a year from people who need help, people like Tensia Richard who needed help last year when she called police fearing for her safety.
When investigators with Cottage Grove Police interviewed her in what is called a lethality assessment, they believed her husband could escalate the violence and even try to kill her.
Yet she ultimately went back to him, which experts say is pretty typical. In fact, studies show it takes people 4 to 7 times before they're able to break free.
"They stay for all kinds of reasons. Whether it be financial, they really love their partner, they really want them to change or fear and intimidation," she said.
Which is why Polzin believes having a safety plan is crucial, whether it be setting up a safe place to go or stashing away cash for when you do leave.
"They're not alone, violence is not their fault and there are people who can help," she said. "I see amazing hopeful outcomes every single day where people do find the strength that they need."
If you have a loved one who you fear is being abused, her advice is simple.
"All you need to do is ask if they're okay and that you're worried about them and that you care," she said.
If you or a loved one needs help, the Tubman crisis lines are 612-825-0000 in the west metro and 651-770-0777 in the east metro.
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