At least 94 people, from 8 months to 61 years old, died in Colorado in 2022 as a result of domestic violence, according to a report released by the Attorney General’s Office.
It was the second time in two years that the number of domestic violence fatalities set an all-time high in Colorado, exceeding the previous record of 91.
At least 39 people were killed last year by their current or former intimate partners and 22 were bystanders, such as family members, coworkers or neighbors who were with the victim or tried to intervene, the report said.
The number of fatalities was nearly 1.5 times higher than the average number of deaths in the state since 2016, when the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board began tracking them.
The number of bystanders killed was “extraordinarily high” compared with years past, showing the threat extends beyond domestic violence victims and into the community, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Among the deaths were six children under the age of 16, including a 5-year-old who was sleeping in an apartment when a fire was set nearby in a domestic dispute. The five other children died from gunshot wounds after separate attacks, the report said.
Two police officers were also shot to death when responding to domestic violence incidents, the report said.
The report is a “sobering reminder” of the work needed to combat domestic violence across the state, Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a news release. “The numbers are alarming and should catalyze action. This report provides a stark reminder that domestic violence continues to be a serious threat, primarily to women, and all Coloradans must work toward greater gender equality and more robust efforts to prevent domestic violence.”
The board, which was set up to review data and make policy recommendations, suggested a wider use of assessment tools in organizations that work directly with domestic violence survivors to better help adults and children who are affected by domestic violence and understand the safety risks. The board also recommended developing a pilot program through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation that would foster a relationship between prosecutors, law enforcement and the defense bar to help ensure Colorado’s firearm relinquishment statutes are enforced, the report said.
There’s also a need for more collaboration between the state’s Maternal Mortality Prevention Program, Child Fatality Review Baord and the Office of Suicide Prevention, the report said, noting the intersection between each entity’s work and the potential to analyze domestic violence fatalities in a more comprehensive way.
Consistent with previous reports, firearms were the leading cause of death among domestic violence fatalities in 2022, accounting for 86% of deaths. Ninety-seven percent of the victims were female and 95% of the perpetrators were male.