According to law enforcement officials, Christian Castro did not have any crimes against persons or domestic-violence incidents in his history before a murder-suicide Thursday morning on Poplar Springs Road.
Castro shot his 2-year-old son and then turned the gun on himself, according to authorities.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies first responded around 12:30 a.m. Thursday to a call about a “man assaulting a 23-year-old woman and leaving the residence with the couple’s 2-year-old son.”
“He hit her with his fists, choked her with his hands, grabbed her and pulled her hair,” Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said Friday.
Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard said the biggest indicator that a domestic relationship can end up deadly is choking/strangulation.
“When the tension and the violence in the relationship has reached that level, that is the highest lethality indicator for our research,” she said.
Castro, 24, left the residence with his son, Christian Castro Jr.
Deputies spotted Castro’s vehicle on the property of a home adjacent to his on Poplar Springs Road.
“As deputies approached the car on foot, Castro fired several gunshots at them, but no one was injured. Deputies could see Castro’s son sitting on his lap in the car,” Booth wrote in a news release.
SWAT team members discovered around 3:30 a.m. that Castro had shot his son and then turned the gun on himself.
Jennifer Thomas, outgoing executive director for the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, said some of the details she has heard on the case are uncommon for murder-suicides.
“We have seen familicides, where we would look at a case where the perpetrator would kill their partner, kill children and kill themselves. But most of our murder-suicides involve the perpetrator killing the primary victim and then themselves,” she said.
Law enforcement has not responded to that residence for that couple before, according to officials.
Both bodies were taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab.
This is the second fatal shooting related to domestic violence in less than a week.
Sabrina Banks Turner, 48, of Flowery Branch, was charged with voluntary manslaughter Saturday, June 22, in the death of her live-in boyfriend, Everton Carter, 44, in Flowery Branch.
“It is a rare day that an officer in any jurisdiction works an entire shift without responding to a domestic-related call, many of which involve some form of physical violence. This is why the partnerships we share with agencies and organizations that work to combat domestic violence are critical. We want to emphasize that there is hope for those who find themselves in domestic violence relationships, as we have resources available that can be of assistance to victims to help them safely escape the situation, and hopefully avoid a tragedy similar to what we’ve seen today,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement Thursday.
When discussing the topic of domestic violence with someone who may be experiencing it, Thomas said a more effective question is if the “the world feels smaller than it did prior to your partner’s behaviors.”
“If you think about it from this context of are you restricted from seeing family and friends? Are you restricted from having a car? We think about your world getting smaller, that you’re reliant and have become dependent on that individual because they’ve created the situation for it to occur,” Thomas said.
To Thomas, murder-suicide is a “double dose” of undiscussed issues in society: suicide and family violence.
“The more we can talk about it and the more we can feel safe to have conversations about it at our workplace, in our faith communities, then people will feel more open to come and disclose when they are not feeling safe and secure,” she said.
The time when a person experiencing domestic violence begins to leave is the most dangerous time, and Thomas said that elevated risk can last up to two years after leaving.
“It is important for those individuals (experiencing domestic violence) to know that they deserve a better life, that their kids deserve a better life and there is a pathway safety by connecting with the helpful advocates in your community," she said.
Thomas offered up the 24/7 domestic violence hotline 1-800-334-2836 for anyone experiencing domestic violence or any person close to someone possible experiencing it. In the Gainesville area, the Gateway Domestic Violence Center hotline is 770-536-5860.