A bathroom note found by a gas station clerk in Sweetwater, Tennessee, may have ended up saving a battered woman’s life.
Around 1 a.m. on Sept. 29, police responded to a call from a gas station along Highway 68 in Monroe County in southeast Tennessee after an employee had found a disturbing note inside the restroom and called them, according to CBS affiliate WVLT-TV in Knoxville.
The note read: “Police… Tell room 218. I need help. He broke my cell phone.”
Sweetwater police Sgt. Kevin Franco and another officer responded to the call, checking nearby hotels to find a possible victim based on the room number mentioned in the note.
“We tried to get there as fast as we could,” Franco said.
Eventually, officers ended up finding a man, woman and child inside a room at one of the hotels.
Police said the woman told officers the man — her boyfriend — had beaten her several times that day.
“Her nose was bloody, bruising on her chin, bruising on the top of her head. You can tell she had been a victim of some type of assault,” Franco told WVLT.
The man was arrested for simple domestic assault.
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Franco credited the note with possibly saving the woman’s life, observing the situation officers were inserting themselves into was potentially dangerous.
“We didn’t know if he was armed or if he was the one who put the note there,” he said.
Days before, a Middle Tennessee sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed attempting to save a woman from her suspected abuser.
“We never go to a domestic violence call alone, because that’s how dangerous it is,” Franco said.
Statistics back up his assessment.
The U.S. Department of Justice studies officer deaths and catalogs which calls are the deadliest.
The most recent report indicates that from 2010 to 2016, some 40 percent of calls that ended with police fatalities were related to domestic violence.
Twenty-eight officers were shot and killed in the first half of 2021, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Domestic violence has been in the national spotlight recently due to the case of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito. The 22-year-old disappeared last month while on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, who returned from Wyoming to Florida without her.
A body identified as that of Petito has since been found, with preliminary autopsy results concluding the manner of death as a homicide.
Laundrie, who has been named a person of interest in the case, has subsequently disappeared.
The FBI has issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of debit card fraud after he made withdrawals using someone else’s card.