- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

NEW PARIS, Ohio (AP) - A southwest Ohio sheriff says a woman “did everything she should do” to try to protect herself from the man who shot and wounded her and killed her 10-year-old daughter before killing himself.

“It’s very frustrating,” Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said. “I’m not sure what could have been done.”

Authorities say the man bought a handgun shortly after his release from jail last week on a domestic violence charge. Brian Harleman, 43, was accused of punching Catherine Gessman, 45, in the head.

Gessman obtained a court protection order after writing in a Dec. 18 complaint that Harleman threatened to kill her if she called police and also threatened to kill her dogs. Authorities said Harleman had recently lived with Gessman.

Deputies reported that they observed a bruise under her eye and said Gessman told them she wanted to pursue charges and “was scared for her life.”

Deputies responding to multiple 911 calls late Monday night found all three with gunshot wounds in the driveway of a home in New Paris, near the Indiana state line. The man and girl were pronounced dead at the scene; Gessman was hospitalized in Indianapolis and is expected to survive, police said.

Simpson said it appeared Harleman forced his way into the home, and the woman and the girl fled through a back door as the man chased them with a handgun.

A court hearing had been scheduled earlier for Wednesday morning on the protection order.

“Protection orders are a vital tool in ensuring the safety and security of our domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault victims,” Preble County prosecutor Martin Votel said Tuesday. “However, as this case so sadly illustrates, they are not fail-safe. Unfortunately, they are violated all too often by respondents who do not have respect for the court’s authority.”

Simpson told the Dayton Daily News that police are investigating Harleman’s handgun purchase following his release from jail last Thursday after spending the night there.

“It’s tragic that this poor little 10-year-old girl was caught in the middle of this,” Simpson said. “Her life is gone because of what this man did.”

A vigil for the girl, fifth-grader Samantha Carpenter, was held at her school Tuesday night.

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