AMES, Iowa — Last week’s shooting outside of an Ames church has domestic violence advocates wondering if more could’ve been done to prevent what happened.
Story County Sheriff’s Office say Johnathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, shot and killed Eden Montang, 22, and Vivian Flores, 21, outside of Cornerstone Church.
Authorities say Whitlatch and Montang had recently ended a relationship. Whitlatch had been arrested for harassing Montang at work just days before the shooting, but Story County Sheriff’s Office confirmed there was not a no contact order in place for Montang.
Officials say getting a no contact order would have likely come up at Whitlatch’s court hearing on Friday, June 10. It is up to a judge whether a harassment charge leads to one.
Tiffany Allison is a survivor of domestic violence and now leads Soaring Hearts Foundation to advocate for victims of violent crimes. She said this is a wake-up call for more to be done.
“There have been proposals at the legislature,” Allison said. “There are things that could’ve been done in the past that would’ve definitely kept her safer, that would make a safer landscape for all victims within the community.”
Allison is advocating for legislation that would make first responders conduct an assessment with victims to determine the offender’s risk. If their score is high enough the offender would be placed on GPS monitoring during the court process in an effort to protect the victim.
Based on Whitlatch’s criminal history, Allison thinks it could have made a difference.
“Ultimately I think when people decide to do really devastating things like this, they have decided,” Allison said. “And so that no contact order may not mean as much, but that monitoring would give the victim an opportunity right? An opportunity they may not otherwise have to get away.”
Allison said they will be trying to get a representative to sponsor the legislation next session.