BROOK PARK, Ohio — When Sarah Carter saw her ex-boyfriend pull up in front of her home late Saturday afternoon, she says she immediately called 911.
Even after being shot in the leg, she focused on one thing, the four little lives in her home. "It's your leg, you're going to live, it's just your leg, the kids are fine, just stay calm," Carter said that was the mantra going through her head.
Three of them, her oldest child and two cousins, huddled under the bed in her room.
"Yes they were here, but they didn't physically witness that, they didn't see my wound and I wanted to keep it that way," Carter said.
10-month-old Alice was in her room.
It was Alice's dad, Carter's ex-boyfriend, who had broken in, demanding to see the infant.
While Carter was able to protect the other three, baby Alice was shot and killed by her father, who also took his own life.
6 days later, Carter is healing and has a new mission to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.
"In the eyes of some people, it just looks like he's trying to take custody of her. But in the eyes of someone who has dealt with him stalking me and harassing me for months and months and months, I had a feeling it was more than that." Carter said.
She had wanted to get a protection order against her ex, knowing he was armed and angry. But, she says according to an attorney, she wasn't able to meet the qualifications.
"I believe I would've had a protection order if it wasn't so hard to get, however, the look on his face that day, the way he kicked in my door, a piece of paper would not have stopped him," Carter said.
Now, her wounds turn to scars from the bullets pierced through her upper thigh and her sense of safety.
Carter's 6-year-old is learning what it means to have a personal angel, asking about and enjoying the little stuffed animals people have dropped off to remember baby Alice.
"I don't know how she's been so strong for it either. She's just..." Carter didn't have the words to finish the sentence.
Sarah Carter is clearly still processing everything that has happened to her.
But even now she says she wants to share her story to raise awareness about the need to make protective orders easier to get for anyone dealing with a domestic violence situation.
She also wants to make sure every time her story is told, resources for help are made available.
If you are experiencing anything similar and need help, you're encouraged to call our area's domestic violence help line: 216-391-HELP.
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