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Questions Over Security Raised After Shooting At Manchester YWCA

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Authorities continue to investigate a shooting over the weekend at the Manchester YWCA in which a man killed his 9-year-old son and then shot himself.

The head of the New Hampshire YWCA answered questions today about security at the visitation center and what they can to make sure children are safe.

Monica Zulauf took questions from a swarm of reporters just a few feet away from a makeshift memorial for Joshua Savyon.

She says she is confident staff did all they could to prevent Sunday’s tragedy.

“I’d like to see 15 layers of security and safety. But people who are going to commit an act of violence who are committed to committing a homicide, are going to do it. And you can do as much as you can, reasonably, but this man was determined.”

It was a day ago when police say Muni Savyon, during a supervised visit with his son, drew a gun and shot his son to death. He then shot and killed himself.

An employee monitoring the visit escaped unharmed.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin said Monday that the YWCA had confirmed to his office that while they occasionally use a hand-held metal detector, they did not use one on Savyon that day.

He also says Savyon had a history of making violent threats.

“This individual had made threats to kill himself, his son’s mother and their son in the past.”

When asked on Monday about the use of a metal detector, Zulauf said she’d not yet had a chance to confirm that with staff.

She said a metal detector is often used on visitors, particularly when a case rises to a higher level of risk.

And Zulauf added that staff likely would have been aware of any threats Savyon had made.

“In domestic violence, that’s standard operating procedures, he says, ‘I’m going to kill you and the kids.’ So does that necessarily increase what we see? That is the victim we work with all the time here.”

The YWCA is one of several supervised visitation centers in New Hampshire.

The majority of the supervised visits are court ordered, after it’s shown that one parent could be a risk.

Michael Flaherty is the chief operating officer of the Greater Nashua Mental Health Center, which also hosts supervised visitations.

He says a uniformed police officer is always at the center during visitations.

Every visitor gets patted down and must submit to a metal detector check.

“And all their personal possessions that they come in with are actually put in a secured location. So they don’t have any…anything once they go in and see their child. There’s no pens, there’s no pencils, there’s no keys. They don’t have anything when they walk in.”

YWCA president Monica Zulauf says they have hired police detail in Manchester in the past, but armed security is not always on site.

Funding is one reason why, but Zulauf says it also comes down to what is going to the best environment for the children.

“We try to have the children feel safe, and that this is a homelike environment. It’s hard to do that if you have a police officer standing there.”

The YWCA will remain closed on Tuesday, but as a high-volume center with a case load of 20 to 30 families, Zulauf says they are working to reopen by the end of the week.

Michael serves as NHPR's Program Director. Michael came to NHPR in 2012, working as the station's newscast producer/reporter. In 2015, he took on the role of Morning Edition producer. Michael worked for eight years at The Telegraph of Nashua, covering education and working as the metro editor.

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