An Alabama woman whose requests for court-ordered protection from her allegedly abusive ex-husband had been twice denied was killed on Sunday in an apparent murder-suicide, when her former spouse fatally shot her and two others with a high-powered rifle, PEOPLE confirms.
Debra Ann Rivera, 41, of Ardmore, died in the murder-suicide along with husband, Radex Rivera, 41, and their roommate, 59-year-old Timothy James Hayword-Boger, the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
All three victims were found shot to death on the back porch of their house.
Deputies responded to a 911 call on Sunday about 1:44 p.m., after an unidentified woman told dispatchers that Darwin Brazier had sent her a text message saying “he had just killed his ex-wife, her husband and a man named Tim and was going to kill himself,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
Authorities believe Brazier, 43, fired 30 times on his victims. They spent the next few hours searching for him before he was discovered near his home in Madison County, where he allegedly shot himself with a handgun as law enforcement closed in, the sheriff’s office said.
“This was an unnecessary and unfortunate escalation of what appears to be a long-term history of domestic violence,” Sheriff Mike Blakely said in the statement.
The shooting was the result of “a bad marriage and a bad custody battle,” said Limestone County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Young, The News Courier reports.
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Though Brazier and Rivera divorced in 2005, they later rekindled their relationship and had two daughters, now 11 and 5, court records show, according to the Decatur Daily, the News Courier and local TV station WHNT.
The pair eventually split for good, however, and in December — after a court battle over the children — Limestone County Circuit Judge B. Chadwick Wise granted custody of the girls to Rivera.
He gave Brazier visitation rights, the Decatur Daily reports.
Earlier in 2017, Rivera accused Brazier of stalking her, threatening to take her daughters from her and asking another man to harass her, court records show, according to the News Courier.
According to the records cited by local media, Rivera said she believed Brazier had installed a GPS tracking unit on her car. She also alleged that he stole her computer and gave her personal information to a convicted felon who began to harass her.
On March 14, 2017, she petitioned the court for a protection of abuse order from Brazier, asking the judge to force her ex-husband to surrender any firearms, the court records state.
Wise denied that petition on March 31, the Decatur Daily reports.
Nearly a year later, on March 1, Rivera sought a second protection from abuse order after Brazier allegedly followed her and threatened her and her new husband, the court records show, according to the Decatur Daily.
“He calls my husband threatening to hurt both of us,” Rivera wrote in her most recent petition, WHNT reports. “[He] drives by my house all hours of day to check where I am. He is upset I am now married and don’t want to be with him. He has been physical in the past, pulled a gun on me. … I know he has anger toward me and in past has caused physical pain to me.”
Judge Wise granted the order on a temporary basis, according to the Decatur Daily. But on April 10, he terminated the temporary order and denied her request for a permanent order, according to court records.
The records do not show why Wise ruled against Rivera’s requests, The News Courier reports.
PEOPLE’s calls to Wise for comment were not immediately returned on Thursday.