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Texas woman shot with her 4 children had left husband before

December 2, 2011 |  9:35 am

Photo: A shrine for a family is seen outside the mobile home where they were shot Wednesday in Bay City, Texas. Two children among the six people found shot died at a hospital, officials said. Credit: Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle A Texas woman struggling to survive Friday after she and her children were shot by her husband had reportedly left the man before and complained of abuse.

On Wednesday, police say, Jose Avila, 24, shot his wife and four children, then himself. Avila died. Two of his sons, ages 3 and 5, died soon after at a Houston hospital. The two other children, a 2-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, were placed on life support but died Thursday, according to the Bay City Tribune.

Their mother remained at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston on Friday. Police have not officially released the names of the victims, but co-workers and neighbors told the Associated Press that the woman's name is Laura Gonzalez.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Friday that the woman remained in critical condition, according to the AP.

Co-workers said that Gonzalez had long struggled with domestic violence, adding that an assault reported just before Thanksgiving had prompted her to stay in a battered women’s shelter.

“I asked her how she was doing because I knew she was at the crisis center. She said she was trying to make something of her freedom and a better life for herself and her children,” Alejandro Gonzalez, a fellow waiter at La Casona, the Mexican restaurant where Gonzalez worked, told the AP.

“She wanted to make a better life for his kids because they see all the violence,” he said.

Waitress Ruby Gomez told the news service that Gonzalez had been threatened by her husband, and worried he might attack again. She said Avila had once locked her in the house and gone to work, forcing her to escape through a window and stay at a shelter. She returned home because “he convinced her that he was going to change and that he really loved his kids,” Gomez said.

Although Gonzalez left the mobile home she shared with her husband after reporting the most recent assault, Bay City police Lt. Andrew Lewis told the AP that she refused to press charges.

Wednesday’s violence unfolded just as two nearby schools were letting out on a quiet street in Bay City, a town of 17,000 about 65 miles southwest of Houston. The couple had started arguing inside the trailer, and Avila shot his wife twice, Lewis told the AP. She then ran to the front yard, where Avila shot her a third time before turning his gun on the children.

Some neighbors said they saw no evidence of domestic violence. Isuro Perez told the AP that he had heard the couple arguing, but nothing violent.

“He always plays soccer out here in this field out here, plays soccer with his kids,” Perez said, adding that they appeared to be, "a happy family.”


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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston

Photo: A shrine for a family is seen outside the mobile home where they were shot Wednesday in Bay City, Texas.  Credit: Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle