Sue Morrow: Working though the fallout of IHOP
For the Nevada Appeal
The horrific Sept. 6 shooting at Carson City’s IHOP in which five people, including the assailant, died and and 11 others were wounded, continues to attract media attention.
But little, if anything, has been reported since then about the role of a special division instituted by District Attorney Neil Rombardo, whose members were among first responders at the tragedy, which claimed the lives of three Nevada National Guard members and a South Lake Tahoe woman.
Frankee Haynes, victim/witness coordinator for the DA’s office, said she and her partner, Suzanne Crawford, were in “full motion” after arriving at the scene and later to the Sheriff’s Office where surviviors and witnesses were taken. The two had to ascertain what was needed, provide support, answer questions and “calm the people down.”
“There was a lot of crisis intervention,” and a lot of hours were put in following up with the victims both in and out of the hospital, Haynes said. “We offer(ed) counseling, financial support, help with medical bills and shelter,” the latter necessary for a number of the survivors and witnesses who were from out of town and for whom hotel arrangements were made, Haynes said.
The sole funding for expenses was provided via a federal program that paid for medical costs, counseling, lost property including eyeglasses that were broken, and clothing that needed to be replaced. In some instances, wheelchair ramps were installed in homes for those “who didn’t need them prior to that day.”
She has been involved with about 35 people – victims and witnesses – since gunman Eduardo Sencion, who had mental health issues and was armed with an assault rifle, unleashed his deadly attack at the IHOP.
Wearing her other hat, Haynes is a response advocate for the sexual assault and domestic violence team at the DA’s office, where her job can start as early as in a hospital emergency room. She said she lets victims know their rights, answers their questions and sees that financial support including shelter and food if necessary are provided. She said she starts at the ER and sees the victims “all the way to the trial if that’s the course it takes.”
Her job takes her through all levels of the courts – Juvenile Court, Justice Court, District Court, and albeit rarely, the Nevada Supreme Court.
Haynes is working on a case in which a man allegedly raped, tortured and beat with a hammer his live-in girlfriend, whom he allegedly kept locked in a closet while while he was at work. That case, involving multiple felonies, is due to be in court in February.
Haynes and Sheriff Ken Furlong have been working on a program that’s set to start at the end of the month, Haynes said.
Called VINE – Victim Information Notification Everyday – the program will consist of an automated system that a victim can access 24 hours a day to learn the status of an incarcerated offender, such as the release date or whether the person is sick or deceased.
The system is sponsored by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association. It exists in 47 states, said Haynes, who added that she does manual notification of the status of prison and jail inmates.
Haynes, 41, has lived in the capital city for 30 years. She joined the District Attorney’s Office almost four years ago and earlier spent a number of years working with Advocates to End Domestic Violence on its sexual assault/domestic violence response team, where she ran its Domestic Violence Advocates Unit at the courthouse. She still is active with Advocates. Haynes is the mother of a 22-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter who is serving in the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in California.
Thanks, Frankee, for all you do.
• Sue Morrow is a longtime Nevada journalist and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.