The daughter of a Coventry man who fatally shot his wife and himself last year says state officials repeatedly ignored warning signs leading up to the tragedy.
She's asking leaders to take action.
Greg Pawloski fatally shot his wife, Janice Lesko, before turning the gun on himself last August. Pawloski’s 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Rachel, of East Hampton, hosted a press conference in Coventry on Friday urging state leaders to make some changes.
“No child should endure what I haven. Yet they do, every single day. This must change,” Rachel Pawloski said.
The teen founded a nonprofit organization called Youth Alliance Against Violence in the wake of the murder-suicide. She said family members reached out to the Department of Children and Families for help 60 days before the shooting.
“DCF failed Janice Lesko. DCF failed Greg Pawloski. And the courts are to blame,” said Rachel Pawloski.
Her father’s ex-wife and Rachel’s mother, Kimberley Fontaine, said her former husband had previous domestic violence arrests.
“The night that I attempted to end my relationship with Greg Pawloski in 2001, he was trying to get his hands on a gun,” Fontaine said.
Court paperwork from October 2001 shows that authorities seized Greg Pawloski’s guns – including a .22-caliber rifle, antique rifle and 16-gauge shotgun – but the firearms were later returned to him.
“I believe in the right to bear arms afford to us in the United States Constitution... to the extent that those who have a history of perpetrating domestic violence should no longer be afforded that right,” said Rachel Pawloski.
Now she and other family members are pushing for changes, including improvements in record-keeping and communication between the Department of Children and Families and local police departments.
“I’m saying there’s an enormous paper trail, and if someone had actually looked to find it, they should have been able to find it,” Fontaine explained.
DCF issued a statement Friday afternoon following the press conference.
"The Department of Children and Families applauds the courage of Rachel Pawloski for speaking out in support of stronger measures to prevent domestic violence in Connecticut," said Josh Howroyd, of DCF.
"While DCF cannot disclose the specific case details regarding our involvement with her family, we can confirm that we did respond to a report in April 2013 which was processed as a Family Assessment Response Case, which provides a comprehensive assessment of child safety, risk of subsequent child abuse or neglect, family strengths and needs," Howroyd said. "After interviewing family members and collateral contacts over the course of five weeks, there were recommendations for counseling services and the Department closed our involvement in May 2013."