Aryana Baluja’s mom had been dating Michael Demarco, 55, for five months before ending the relationship.
As WPTV reports, Baluja’s mother (who has not been named because she is a victim of domestic violence) and Demarco were friends before they began dating. The two lived in the same condominium complex in Boynton Beach, Florida, where they met.
Baluja, 18, told WPTV that after getting to know Demarco, she knew something was off about his personality:
“When I first met him it was kind of like OK he’s a cop, maybe he’s a good person, that’s what cops are looked at for. But after getting to know him a little better, it was the total opposite.”
Demarco and the teen’s mother met at the Inlet Harbor Club complex in May of 2017, when Demarco invited the woman and her daughter over for dinner, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Baluja later told detectives that in the first two months of her mother’s relationship, Demarco, a detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, was a “nice guy” who taught her how to drive, mentored her toward a career path, and even bought her a desk for her studies at Palm Beach State.
The relationship soon deteriorated, as Baluja said her mother and Demarco started arguing over “jealousy issues” and Demarco would become angry if her mother spoke to relatives in Spanish.
Baluja told WPTV her mother had also become concerned with Demarco’s controlling behavior, which was further apparent when the trio went out for dinner:
“Sometimes we’d go out to dinner, for example, and she’s kind of use to doing her own thing, she’s very independent. So, he would want to order for her. She’s not really used to that. So, she would go home and kind of be like, ‘Don’t you think it was weird that he was trying to order for me? He wouldn’t let me eat what I wanted to eat.'”
The woman ultimately ended the relationship with Demarco, claiming he was “racist and very possessive of her,” The Palm Beach Post reported.
Then, on October 12, Demarco pulled up to his ex while she walked her dog before work in his unmarked police vehicle. After a conversation in the complex’s parking lot, Demarco shot the woman once in the arm and twice in the chest before turning the gun on himself, The Palm Beach Post reports. The incident was captured on surveillance video.
Demarco was pronounced dead at the scene. Baluja’s mom, however, survived. Baluja’s mom later told investigators that before Demarco shot her, he said:
“You treat me worse than the dog.”
According to the Daily Mail, the woman plans to file a lawsuit against the condominium where she and Demarco lived, alleging she had reported being “terrorized” by Demarco twice and feared for her and her daughter’s safety. Baluja’s mother contends representatives of the condo association failed to report her concerns to police as required by law.
Baluja told the Daily Mail her mother believes the assault could have been prevented:
“She wants to get her message across because this could have been prevented. She could have been well right now. She wouldn’t have been in the hospital.”
According to The Palm Beach Post, the woman’s attorneys have also threatened to sue the sheriff’s office for failing to adequately supervise or care for Demarco, who was “clearly battling mental duress and emotional troubles.” The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has not commented on the matter.GoFundMe
As her mother recovers, Baluja set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses. “She is a miracle of God!” Baluja writes. “She is my angel.”
According to Break the Cycle, dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner — two common features of unhealthy and abusive relationships.
Watch Baluja’s interview below, via WPTV.