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WaHi Leaders Call for 'Zero Tolerance' Against Domestic Violence

By  Fred Dreier and Carla Zanoni | June 14, 2012 6:37pm 

Local leaders called changes in how the community and local government handle domestic violence in the wake of a murder-suicide on June 13, 2012.
Local leaders called changes in how the community and local government handle domestic violence in the wake of a murder-suicide on June 13, 2012.
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Courtesy of the Office of Ydanis Rodriguez

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Elected officals and advocacy groups urged members of the community and local governments to adopt a "zero tolerance" stance toward domestic violence Thursday in the wake of an apparent murder-suicide on Audubon Avenue.

Just a day after Sergio Azcona, 29, shot and killed his on-again off-again girlfriend, Michelle DeLacruz, before turning the gun on himself, elected officials and advocacy groups said more people must come out from behind the shadows and take a stand against abuse in the home.

DeLacruz had an order protection against Azconza, who had nine prior arrests, after he allegedly raped her in December, sources said.

Against the backdrop of a bullet-shattered window at 189 Audobon Ave. — where police said Azcona shot at cops — City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and members of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation as well as the Dominican Women’s Development Center called on local governments to fund anti-domestic violence programs.

"This shows we need to provide services for women, but we also need to have an educational component for men,” Rodriguez said. “Prevention and education.”

Rodriguez said friends and neighbors should encourage victims of domestic violence to reach out to community groups, such as the NMIC and Dominican Women’s Center, which both work with domestic violence cases. He said individuals should also call 311 if domestic violence persists, and that they should understand they are protected by law enforcement.

“In this case a woman lost her life after being harassed a number of times,” he said.

Police said a 911 caller reported hearing shots inside the building Wednesday at 1:18 a.m., and police quickly arrived and surrounded the building. Officers saw Azcona, 29, through the locked front door, through a ground-floor window, standing and grasping a handgun in the entrance lobby. Eyewitnesses said he fired at officers before running inside the building.

Officers said they found him lying on the first floor with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Police found DeLacruz inside Azcona’s fourth-story apartment with a gunshot wound to her head.

DeLacruz's friends on social media were still shocked Thursday about her sudden and violent death.

"Mimi, every time I see another, I get more and more sad," JoJo Pemberton posted on Facebook. "No words... Love u loca ♥."

NYPD Deputy Inspector Brian Mullen said Azcona, who worked as a technician for a cable company and had missed work all week, had been acting strange leading up to the killing.

"[Azcona] was apparently acting very irrational in the apartment that evening and in the weeks leading up to it, according to his family and friends,” he said.

Mullen said DeLacruz apparently went to Azcona's home late Tuesday despite the order of protection.

“Unfortunate for her that she decided to go back,” he said. "So often they get an order of protection and then they go back, thinking it’s not so bad. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this."