Woman Shot and Killed at Nordstrom was Scared to Get Protective Order

Illustration for article titled Woman Shot and Killed at Nordstrom was Scared to Get Protective Order

On Nov. 28, shoppers were filing into a Nordstrom store in downtown Chicago on Black Friday, when a man walked up to the third floor, approached an employee and shot her. He then turned the gun on himself.

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Nadia Ezaldein died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a result of her injuries. The gunman, her ex-boyfriend Marcus Dee, died at the scene.

Ezaldein was just 22 years old, a law student at the University of Chicago. She was working a seasonal job to help pay for school. She was also terrified of her ex-boyfriend and his violent behavior towards her—terrified his family connections to the police department would protect him if he came after her. She was terrified to ask for help from the justice system because, as she told a relative, she thought his police officer parents could "cover it up."

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According to the Chicago Tribune, she started dating Dee two years ago. The relationship was filled with turmoil, and Dee repeatedly physically abused her. During a 2013 incident, he became so violent he put a gun in her mouth and threatened her. Ezaldein went to the hospital as a result of the incident and shortly afterwards ended the relationship.

In the year since, Dee had harassed both the woman and her family members by making threatening calls to her father and siblings, family members said. The victim changed her number three times as a result, they said.

Dee reportedly called Ezaldein many times of the course of a year, threatening her and threatening to kill himself. "He called the entire family, consistently texting. He Googled my entire family," her sister, Nagah Ezaldein, said. Dee reportedly accused Ezaldein's sister of stalking him, and tried to get a protective order.

On April 7, Dee filed a petition for a no contact order, citing stalking, against the victim's sister. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Ramirez denied that request the same day. The next day, the victim's sister filed a similar petition seeking a restraining order. That was denied the same day by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Caroline Kate Moreland.

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People magazine reports what happened when Nagah Ezaldein tried to get a restraining order on behalf of her sister Nadia:

One of [Nagah Ezaldein]'s complaints was that "he physically abused my sister, cracked her ribs, punched her jaw and fractured it, ripped all of her clothing, stabbed her jacket with a switch knife, ripped her boots, and bruised her lip." He also and most alarming, allegedly "put a gun in her mouth."

"Is there something wrong with her?" Judge Caroline Moreland was quoted asking Nagah at the April 8 hearing.

"Yeah, she's being threatened by her ex-boyfriend," Nagah said.

When the judge asked her if there was something that was physically barring her from coming to court, Nagah told her no, but that "she's scared to come here."

Nagah was told that whoeever the person is being stalked has to be physically present.

"Okay. She has to file this. She has to come here," Moreland said. "Certain legal procedures have to be followed. Okay?"

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The request for a protective order was denied. Nadia Ezaldein wanted to get a protective order against Dee, but was reportedly too scared of his family's law enforcement connections. Both of Dee's parents are police officers.

Ezaldein also tried to request an order of protection but backed out of the request when Dee threatened to kill himself if she went through with it, family members said. Relatives said the woman was also hesitant to report abuse or harassment because Dee's parents were police officers.

"She thought his parents could cover it up," a sister said.

"She's the smartest person I know," said her sister. "She didn't deserve to die."

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DISCUSSION

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As someone who got out of an abusive relationship alive and is still dealing with the ex being abusive from a distance, I'm going to weigh in on why temporary protective orders are important, even though, no, a TPO isn't going to put a physical barrier around a victim and protect them. I'm going to weigh in on why it's not right to say "a TPO wouldn't have helped here".

My ex has never been formally charged with any form of domestic violence, despite being a very violent man. I won't list all the things he's done. One documented incident was when he throttled me against a wall and said he was going to "fucking kill me" because our baby was crying and I dared to take her from his arms. There have been multiple police reports from where I wanted specific incidents documented, but no charges. I thought that the police reports alone would be enough to protect me, but I was wrong.

We officially split over 18 months ago, but the divorce took nearly a year to get through the courts. After multiple incidents (while the divorce was pending) where he showed up at my house and threatened me, before taking our child from me and leaving with her (he's 6'2" and 270lbs. I'm 5'3" and... Not 270lbs. I am not strong enough to stop him if when he does this), it was written into our final order of divorce that he is not allowed at my residence. He is forbidden from harassing me, stalking me, etc, etc, and specifically forbidden from being at my residence.

It didn't stop him from showing up here on Saturday morning and barging in when I opened the door (never for one moment expecting it to be him) and taking our daughter from my arms. It didn't stop him from leaving with her, even though we had just woken up and she wasn't even dressed. It didn't stop him when I called the police in tears to say that he was taking my child RIGHT FUCKING NOW and could they please do something.

That was Saturday morning. A police officer came out to make a report, by which time my ex had already left with my daughter. I just got a call tonight from a different police officer, who finally took the time to look over all these prior incidents and connect the dots. He explained that because there is no TPO - only a court order unrelated to domestic violence saying the ex can't be at my house - he can't just go out and arrest him for coming to my home. A court can hold him in contempt if I can muster up the money to go through the courts system again. But as for "this is forbidden in the court order and you did it; you're going to get arrested now" ? Fat fucking chance.

Had a TPO been filed, these multiple violations would be treated very differently. Instead, what the court has done is send a message to a very violent man which says "you can basically do what you want; she's powerless to stop you."

Now, I am lucky in that he's actually not likely to kill me. He still has access to guns and is still allowed to serve in the military, but hey, I was lucky enough to get out alive; maybe my luck will continue. I'm also lucky that he's a shitty father and the idea of having his daughter for more than a weekend at a time is just horribly inconvenient to him, so he's returned my daughter every time. But he's still been able to come to my home, threaten me, and take her. A TPO is treated very differently by the police and the courts. With a TPO, he wouldn't be getting away with this shit.

I'm filing a TPO immediately the next time he does this (there is no 'if' anymore). I only learned today that he could have been arrested this weekend if there'd been a TPO in place. I thought of all the other times he's come here and threatened me, and how much of it could have been avoided with a TPO. Now that I know what to do, I will not let him get away with this.

TL;DR: TPOs fucking matter.