Police have identified the gunman of the deadly shooting in Plano, North Texas as the estranged husband of one of the victims.
Spencer Hight, 32, lived in Plano. He burst into Meredith Lane Hight’s home and opened fire, killing her and seven other friends on Sept. 10.
Meredith and her friends were preparing to watch a Dallas Cowboys football game, a gathering that soon turned into a bloody crime scene.
Police said that Spencer had multiple firearms on him when he entered the property. He shot seven people dead and wounded two. One of the wounded died in the hospital, while the other person, who has not been named, survived and is still hospitalized.
When a police officer arrived on the scene around 8 p.m., he saw bodies in the property’s backyard and heard gunshots coming from the house, authorities said. The officer confronted Spencer and fatally shot him.
Meredith had filed for divorce from Spencer in July but did not request a restraining order. Her mother Debbie Lane said that the gathering was a chance for her daughter to enjoy time with her friends after the divorce.
“She was a cook, and a quite fine one, and she loved hosting friends and families,” Lane said to the local ABC station. “This was her first opportunity to do it after the divorce and he didn’t take it well.”
Some of the victims were close friends of the couple and were at the wedding, according to Lane, including James Dunlop, the best man, and Rion Morgan, one of the groomsman.
The full list of victims released from the police are Meredith Hight, 27, estranged wife of the suspect, Anthony Cross, 33, Olivia Deffner, 24, James Dunlop, 29, Darryl Hawkins, 22, Rion Morgan, 31, Myah Bass, 28 and Caleb Edwards, 25.
“We’ve never had a shooting of this magnitude, we’ve never seen this many victims before,” Plano Police Chief Gregory Rushin said at a news conference on Monday.
“He was a murdering, evil monster who took the lives of many people,” Meredith’s mother said, describing Spencer, her daughter’s estranged husband.
“And he felt it was his right and that he was entitled to do it,” she said, holding back her tears in an interview with Fox4 News
“If there’s one young woman sitting next to a man where she has her doubts or that she’s making excuses for… that she’ll leave and not look back and find a good person to be with,” she said. “And if that can save those lives, it’s worth every conversation I have.”
“I don’t think he was crazy, I think we make choices consciously,” Lane said to KSDK News. “He was not stupid. I think he chose evil.”
Neighbor Stacey Glover said that she had seen people laughing and grilling outside on that Sunday, and that the party had started early in the afternoon, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The news outlet painted a picture of the marriage, describing how the pair had met when Meredith transferred to the University of Texas. They married on a Caribbean cruise in 2011. It wasn’t until later that it emerged that he reportedly had a drinking problem. Meredith had told her parents the Spencer was violent toward her on two occasions, but she did not tell the police, according to the report.
The newspaper also spoke to an unnamed friend of Spencer who had been messaging him online. There was one question that Spencer kept repeating, according to the friend: “How can the one person you’re supposed to love more than life itself end up being the one person you hate more than life itself?”
Genevieve Morrissy, a friend of Meredith, paid tribute to her on social media. “She had a light within her that was magical and addictive to be around,” she wrote.
Tyler Wilde, a friend and colleague of victim Darryl Hawkins, remembered him on Facebook, writing: “Darryl Hawkins was a genuine and humble person. This act was completely disgusting and unwarranted and no one in that home deserved this.”
“I wish his family emotional recovery in such a terrible time, I will absolutely be paying my respects for this selfless individual.”
Friend of 33-year-old victim Tony Cross, Rachel Vinyard, described him as “boisterous” and “vivacious” to the Austin-American Statesman.
Local Fox4News anchor Allison Harris shared an image of Tony Cross on Monday.
Myah Bass, 28, is survived by her husband Marcus Bass. He is a wheeled vehicle mechanic sergeant in the U.S Army Reserve according to a fundraising page set up by her friend, Vien Phi.
No officers were injured in the attack. The unnamed officer who fatally shot the suspect is on administrative leave with pay, a standard procedure. The Plano Police Department and the Texas Rangers continue to investigate the case.