Gabriella Gonzalez filed a report with Dallas Police back in March after her boyfriend choked her and threatened to harm her and her three children.
The 26-year-old’s family say she tried to escape a violent relationship with Harold Thompson, 22, by every means possible. They had seen the marks of the abuse in her body and felt helpless witnessing how their cheerful daughter and sister, whom they lovingly called Gabby, became frightened and withdrawn as the violence went on.
“I knew she wasn’t OK but we couldn’t help, we didn’t know how,” Gonzalez’s sister, Mileny Rubio, told NBC5. “He was so angry that she wanted to get away from him. She would always tell me that she wanted to leave, but that she couldn’t.“
After that report was filed in March, Ms Rubio and her mother say they tried to follow up with Dallas Police several times, to no avail. Gonzalez, out of options and pregnant with the child of her abuser, faced another challenge due to Texas’ draconian abortion laws.
Upon her return from a trip out-of-state to terminate the pregnancy, Gonzalez became determined to break free from the violence she had been subjected to in recent months. But back in Dallas with the prospect of a new life free of abuse, authorities say Gonzalez was executed in the parking lot of a gas station by Mr Thompson.
Her family believes she was killed out of revenge for getting an abortion.
Here’s everything we know about the case:
Months of abuse
Gonzalez’s murder was the culmination of months of alleged domestic violence she suffered at the hands of Mr Thompson, her family claim.
“I looked at her beaten, he no longer let her talk to anyone, he took everything from her,” her mother, who was not named, told NBC5. “He took his phone, he managed everything for her. She was scared.”
The mother-of-three had long thought about leaving Mr Thompson but was afraid of potential retaliation against her and her family.
According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence, with threats of separation ranking the highest for factors that lead to murder.
A March affidavit obtained by the Associated Press states that Mr Thompson was charged with assault after a victim, confirmed by family to be Gonzalez, told police he “beat her up multiple times throughout the entirety of their relationship.”
The woman also “reiterated that she is scared of the suspect because he had made threats to harm her family and her children.”
Mr Thompson told police at the time that the woman had told him she was pregnant with his child.
A warrant for Mr Thompson’s arrest was issued before the shooting but it remains unclear why he was not taken into custody. Arrest records reviewed by The Independent also show that Mr Thompson was charged with unlawful carry of a weapon in 2021 and 2022. The 2021 charges were dismissed.
Gonzalez’s family told NBC5 that they had made “multiple attempts” to reach Dallas police.
The Independent has contacted the department for comment.
Trip to Colorado and murder
Gonzalez had just returned from Colorado hours earlier when she was ambushed by Mr Thompson in a parking lot in West Oak Cliff on 10 May, according to his arrest warrant.
The reason for her out-of state trip was to terminate her pregnancy, police say.
Texas banned all abortions, except for medical emergencies, after roughly six weeks of pregnancy in 2021. The ban didn’t take effect until Roe v Wade was overturned last summer.
Investigators believe Mr Thompson did not want Gonzalez to get an abortion, and he attacked her upon her return to Texas as a result.
Surveillance video captured the moment Mr Thompson tried to put her in a chokehold before he shrugged him off, police said. She managed to break free from Mr Thompson but he then pulled out a gun and shot Gonzalez in the head.
Mr Thompson opened fire several times afterwards.
Ms Rubio was at the scene of the shooting when her sister was killed.
“I heard gunshots and immediately knew it was her and when I looked back, it was her. She was on the floor,” Ms Rubio told NBC5 through tears. “I was in shock. I couldn’t touch her. I couldn’t move. My body froze. I just called my mom and I couldn’t even explain to her.”
Mr Thompson was arrested and booked into the Dallas County Jail without bond. He has been charged with murder.
A senseless act of violence
Relatives have remembered Gonzalez as a devoted mother to her two girls and son, who spent their first Mother’s Day without her this past Sunday.
“It breaks my heart that you were taken from us in such a senseless act of violence. You didn’t deserve it! You had so much more life to live,” Gonzalez’s cousin Erica Vasquez wrote in a heartfelt Facebook post.
Gonzalez’s family has created a GoFundMe account to raise funeral costs.
The national domestic abuse helpline can offer support at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). For those in the UK, the domestic violence hotline is 0808 2000 247, or you can visit the Women’s Aid website. Other international helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org