Shooting rampage highlights dangers of profession, Phoenix lawyer says
PHOENIX — The murderous rampage of a man suspected of killing at least four people he associated with his divorce and child custody arrangement has reminded a Phoenix lawyer of the potential for danger in her field.
“We are pretty vulnerable in our offices, you just walk right in,” attorney Pamela Donison said Tuesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News. “That’s one of the reasons I decided many years ago I was not going to litigate family law cases anymore.”
Dwight Lamon Jones died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a Scottsdale hotel Monday while police tried to talk him out of a barricaded room. He was suspected of fatally shooting a forensic psychiatrist, two paralegals and a counselor.
“The level of acrimony (in divorce cases) seems to be increasing and I don’t know if that’s a product of all of being being a little bit more aware or it that’s actually an uptick in violence,” Donison said.
Jones’ ex-wife had retained lawyers from the firm Burt Feldman Grenier, where paralegals Veleria Sharp and Laura Anderson worked. Dr. Steven Pitt testified against Jones during the divorce. Marshall Levine worked in the same office building as Pitt.
Ex-wife Connie Jones described her husband in a statement as a “very emotionally disturbed person as the court records will confirm.”
Donison said she had felt unsafe in her offices while dealing with upset opposing parties and even her own clients.
“I have had occasion to be afraid,” Donison said.
She said now she used “collaborative divorce methods,” mediation and negotiation in her cases because she has found it reduced the level of anger and angst to “make things safer for everybody. …
“Violence doesn’t really solve any problem.”
Police said Jones was also suspected of killing two others, Mary Simmons and Byron Thomas, in Fountain Hills.