How a man killed his entire family after wife filed for divorce

The house in Enoch, 5 January
A police crime scene trailer sat outside the victims’ home on Thursday

A 42-year-old man shot seven members of his family before killing himself in the US state of Utah after his wife filed for divorce, police said.

The family of eight were found dead inside a rural home in Enoch City on Wednesday night during a welfare check at the property.

Police say the victims included the man’s wife, his five children and his mother-in-law.

City manager Rob Dotson said the town of about 8,000 people was in shock.

At a news conference on Thursday, city officials said 42-year-old insurance salesman Michael Haight had opened fire on his wife, 40-year-old Tausha, his 78-year-old mother-in-law Gail Earl, and his five children before he killed himself. The five children, who were not named, include three girls, 17, 12 and 7, and two boys, 7 and 4.

Enoch City manager Rob Dotson said their bodies had been discovered by police at around 16:00 local time on Wednesday, after someone reported that the wife had missed a scheduled appointment, prompting a welfare check on the family’s home.

Mr Dotson said each of the victims appeared to have sustained a gunshot wound.

Officials also confirmed that the wife had filed for divorce on 21 December.

“Tausha was the most kind and generous person and she never ever said anything ill about anyone,” Tina Brown, a friend of the family, told KSTU-TV. “She would give the shirt off of her back for anyone and she served people tirelessly.”

City officials, including mayor Jeffrey Chestnut, appeared emotional as they provided their latest update to media.

“It’s not too often something like this hits very close to home,” Mr Chestnut said, adding that the Haight family had been his neighbours. “The youngest children played in my yard with my sons,” he said.

Enoch City is a small agricultural town in the south-western part of the state, about 245 miles (394 km) south of Salt Lake City.

The five children attended four schools across the Iron County School District, which released a statement expressing its sorrow. The school district has since mobilised a crisis response team and have made counsellors and therapists available.

The house in Enoch, 5 January
Festive decorations could be seen in the property’s porch

Utah Governor Spencer Cox tweeted his condolences for those affected by the “senseless violence”. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also offered their condolences, calling the incident a “tragic shooting”.

“Less than one month after we marked 10 years since the Sandy Hook tragedy, another mass shooting has claimed the lives of five more children in Enoch City,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Mayor Chestnut said his community had received offers of support from state and federal governments, including from the US National Security Council. “We’re very grateful to the greater world at large who are mindful of us at this time,” Mr Chestnut said.

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