She and Ian were still arguing over custody, and he still had his guns.On a Monday morning in November, Ian broke through Nikki’s front door carrying a gun.She changed her daily routine, took the girls out of their school in Portland, Oregon, and filed for a restraining order.Nikki said in her restraining order petition that Ian was “obsessed with” his collection of guns; he would post photos and videos of himself on Facebook and You Tube carrying firearms and talking about their custody dispute.Neighbors told the police they heard five or six shots and saw Ian come out with the girls, leaving Nikki dead. As a police tactical squad surrounded his Northeast Portland home, he went to the rear porch and fatally shot himself. “She sought and was given all the protection the court has to offer.She did everything we like to think of as ‘right’ to protect herself and her children from Ian’s abuse.
And though it’s not up to the court to enforce restraining orders, the efforts to protect Nikki fell short of what the law permits to ensure that domestic abusers don’t have access to one of the most lethal weapons of abuse.
The consensus among law enforcement, researchers, advocates for domestic violence victims and most gun-rights groups is that keeping guns out of the hands of abusers is the best way to prevent them from shooting and killing their victims.
In the end, none of our efforts were enough,” Multnomah County Circuit Judge Amy Holmes Hehn, who presided over the Eliases’ custody case, told The Oregonian at the time.
“The grim reality is that when an abuser wants to murder his intimate partner, he’ll likely find a way to do it.” But Ian should not have been able to kill Nikki the way he did — he was supposed to surrender his guns when her restraining order against him was granted.
Each restraining order and protective order, as well as their civil parenting case, required Ian to give up his guns, but officials never made sure he did so.
In 2014, six years after she filed for divorce, Nikki was living on her own with the girls, at that point 7 and 8, in Southwest Portland.