Five homicides in five days stretches homicide survivors

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Five homicides in five days stretches homicide survivors

CREATED Mar. 7, 2013

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - They know the shock and the pain when a loved one is murdered---and cope with a challenge that takes tough determination, and a soft heart.

Now the people of Homicide Survivors are rushing to cope with a terrible boom in their business: five homicides in five days.
Wednesday, on West Kentucky Street, Tucson Police found 21 year old Andres Ballesteros, shot to death. His death makes five homicides in five days and five new families for Homicide Survivors to shepherd through the sad, bewildering world of a crime victim.

Homicide Survivors Director Carol Gaxiola says for some the wound is still fresh, other are still haunted by crimes years ago.

"They know that we get it, that they can't talk about it to other people but they can always call us."
For Carol Gaxiola, that understanding comes the hard way---the hardest way.  Someone murdered her daughter Jasmine.
The latest surge of five homicides pushed Pima County's total to 17 homicides in Pima County since New Year's.
Homicide Survivors has three case workers, and about five volunteers. They work to cope with the rush of people who need their help, without showing strain or absorbing too much of the victim's grief.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Gaxiola: "Their trauma can transfer onto you?"

Gaxiola: "Sure.  We've very compassionate and caring people; that's why we're in this line of business.  So we have to have some strategies as do first responders, law enforcement, even prosecutors to be in a state of mind that it's about the survivors, it's not about us."
Victim Advocate Todd Blumhorst finds different ways to keep his mind clear for the survivors.

"I'm a survivor myself.  We didn't have anything like this when my sister was killed so, giving back and knowing that somebody has somebody they can talk to who understands and who's been through this is really beneficial."

Carol Gaxiola says, "This is the only job I've ever had where I wish I could get laid off and there would be no need; but unfortunately that has not happened."
Donations and volunteers help Homicide Survivors help crime victims.  If you'd like to help, you can reach the organization through its website or use the contact information below:

Homicide Survivors Inc.
32 N. Stone Ave. Ste. 1408
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office (520) 740-5729
Fax (520) 740-5773