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Domestic violence a key connection between many mass shooters

Experts say the behavior is a trend in deadly mass shootings, including the recent church shooting in Texas where 26 people were killed.

Domestic violence is bringing a new danger as experts say the behavior is a trend in deadly mass shootings, including the recent church shooting in Texas where 26 people were killed.

Here in East Tennessee, there are private and government groups working to keep families safe from abuse.

In Knox County, orders of protection are up 18 percent. According to the court clerk that's a good sign people are getting serious about domestic violence.

"We have a real problem with domestic violence in this community. So far we've ordered 6,000 orders of protection since I've been in office. That's a lot,” explained Knox County Court Clerk Mike Hammond.

In Knox County, domestic violence has been linked to a number of cases, including the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting in 2008.

But East Tennessee isn't alone.

Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested for domestic violence before the 2013 attack. Pulse Nightclub Shooter Omar Mateen was accused of violence against his wife. Most recently, Sutherland Springs church shooter Devin Kelly was court martialed for violence against his wife and her child.

MORE: Gunman was judgmental and unstable, acquaintances say

"A patterned criminal who has a pattern of crime revolved around power and control, and that's what we have to remember so that we pay attention to keeping these laws very strong,” explained Family Justice Center Executive Director Amy Dilworth.

According to Knoxville's Family Justice Center, Knox County sees one domestic violence call every 30 minutes. Dilworth said the volume is plateauing, but that doesn't mean things are improving.

"More severity in the cases we see, much more violent cases,” she said.

Orders of protection exist to help people escape their abusers, but they aren't perfect. On Monday, the Air Force admitted a lapse in paper work allowed Kelly to keep the guns used in the Sutherland Springs shooting.

"This kind of situation in Texas tells us that we need to figure this out, we need to make this a priority,” said Dilworth.

Hammond said these orders have teeth, but can't prevent people bent on breaking the law.

“It is more than a piece of paper, it is an order of the court. This is issued by a judge, that person can be arrested, they can serve jail time,” he said.

Hammond said part of the increase in Knox County is due to the District Attorney General's domestic violence unit encouraging more people to get help.

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