Children involved in domestic violence

Some of the saddest casualties in a relationship where domestic violence occurs, are the children. They sometimes have to take on almost parental duties of mediating disputes between their parents, sometimes even to the point of protecting one parent from the other.

Sheriff's deputies were called to the an address on Mar. 25 at 2:30 am. When they arrived, they heard a gunshot and 17 year old Ray Keefer exited the home. He told deputies that he had just shot his father in the leg.

According to court affidavits filed with the court, the mother Lori and Ray had just arrived home about 2 am. (according to comments left following the article, they may have been to a bar that night, though the article does not state that).

Again, according to court documents, when they arrived the father Tom Keefer and his mother Lori Keefer began arguing. Tom threatened both Lori and Ray with an unloaded pistol, then he loaded it and fired a shot into the ceiling. Then he put the gun to Ray's head and told him to leave the residence. A struggle followed and Ray got the gun from his father. Ray went to his room, and his father followed trying to get the pistol. He was unsuccessful, so he went back to the living room and began assaulting his wife. Ray went to the living room carrying the gun and shot his father in the leg.

Deputies reported that Lori, the mother was intoxicated and that she wasn't in the room when Tom was shot. Also, according to the documents, Lori gets intoxicated every night, and gets to the point of falling down a couple of times a week. Ray has told the court that disputes between his parents over Lori's drinking were frequent and that he and his sister Lori often had to intervene so that no one would get hurt.

 Ray, his brother and his sisters have all been removed from the home and placed in foster care, while authorities are investigating the case. The mother Lori, has been warned that she may lose her parental rights, if she doesn't follow the case plan outlined by DHS, Tom has been charged with felony child abuse, use of a weapon to commit a felony, domestic assault and terroristic threats. The maximum sentence on the charges would be 30 years. He has been released on bond, and told not to make contact with Lori or Ray. According to Lori, he is staying at his mother's home. Tom told the courts that he still has a bullet in his leg that needed to be removed.

http://www.northplattebulletin.com/NorthPlatteBulletin/stories/?deptID=3&pageID=3&storyID=9205

I found the comments at the bottom of the article to be interesting. They certainly indicated that the community was aware of some problems. Comments were being made that seem to indicate that one or more of the children may have been taken to the bar more than once. There is no indication if DHS was aware of the situation that the children were living in.

From the affidavit information and the comments left after the article, this doesn't seem to be an isolated situation. So by the age of 17, Ray has been in the role of protector and mediator for quite some time. He has lived with violence and alcohol abuse. There is no indication if Tom had been drinking that night, but certainly a lot about the mother's drinking.

Like one of the commenters on the article, I hope that these kids now recieve the care and protection that they should have had all along. The article doesn't list the ages of the other children, but I hope they are given the opportunity to learn that life doesn't have to be like this. A chance to learn that violence shouldn't have a part of family life. They not only lived with the alcohol abuse and violence, they are now placed in the foster system, and separated from their parents. And while relieved from their previous life, they now face the uncertainities of what will happen to them, how will they go forward in a new home, with a new foster family.

And Ray. While I deplore the fact that he used a gun in the situation instead of calling police, I do see some hope. Many in the heat of anger and fear, might have been tempted to fire a lethal shot. He didn't. He fired a shot into his father's leg, enough to stop him, but not enough to kill him.

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