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Two Americas: The homicide survivor community continues to grow

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Posted at 10:11 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 07:37:55-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Homicides are spiking in Tucson with 88 so far this year.

The loss of life stretches deeper than just the person killed, it impacts the families and loved ones they leave behind.

“Our story started August 5, 2017. My husband was killed at a bar around 2:47 am,” recalled Adriana Norzagaray Vasquez.

Norzagaray Vasquez says her world changed shortly after when police knocked on her door.

“I remember them telling me that he was dead and I threw the door in their face. I ran to my son's room and I couldn't talk. I traumatize both of my kids by yelling, 'Your dad is dead,' and that's all I could say,” she said.

She isn’t alone. There is an entire community of homicide survivors in Tucson that continues to grow.

“The community represents somebody who is grieving the loss of somebody they loved that died by a homicide,” said
Daniela Muñoz-Alvarez, bilingual victim's advocate at Homicide Survivors Incorporated.

Muñoz-Alvarez is a bilingual victim’s advocate for Homicide Survivors Inc. It's a nonprofit that supports surviving loved ones inside the courtroom and outside — with support groups and even therapy.

This year she said HSI's caseload has grown with the growing number of homicides in Tucson.

“The impact of having to have increased caseloads is that we are looking for more opportunities to be able to expand our agency," said Muñoz-Alvarez.

That means having the ability to show up with the resources and support the community needs.

Adriana said you never heal from such a tragedy.

“You learn how to live with it, but you never heal because anything can bring that pain right back,” she said.

She and her family have benefited from the services at HSI.

“You meet people that are going through what you're going [through], that feel what you're feeling. You don't feel out of place because many times family doesn't know how to deal with this kind of pain,” said Norzagaray Vasquez.

While is still waiting for justice to be served in her husband’s case, she leaves this message for those contributing to the violence.

“They need to think twice because they're not just only hurting the family of the victim but they're hurting their own family because they have to go through all the pain also of losing this person that committed a crime,” said Norzagaray Vasquez.

Homicide Survivors, Inc. is hosting a holiday event for survivors this year. You can learn more about the nonprofit's events here.