PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Police are still gathering evidence and investigating the details behind what lead to the shooting and killing of eight people inside a Plano home on Sunday night.
The mass murder has rocked the community and left the victim’s family and friends trying to process how and why it happened.
It was after 8:00 p.m. when neighbors called police after hearing what they thought were gunshots at or near the house on West Spring Creek Parkway. Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin said the first officer on the scene found the victim’s bodies in the backyard. Tuesday morning the crime scene tape and Plano police squad cars remained at the home.
The group had gathered at the home of Meredith Hight for a cookout and Dallas Cowboys watch party. Meredith’s estranged husband, Spencer Hight, was the person who allegedly showed up at the party and opened fire.
Zully Romo told CBS 11 News that she was surprised when her co-worker, Darryl Hawkins, didn’t show up for work Monday. She eventually ended up outside the house in Plano. “Little by little, I started connecting pieces and unfortunately it led me here,” she said. “It led me here to find out that he’s not with us anymore.”
Romo said Hawkins’s personality brought people together and that he had a pleasant “positive vibe.”
On Facebook, a man from Pasadena, Texas said in a post that one of the victims was his nephew, Tony Cross. Carmen Carola knew Cross and reflected on happier times. “Last time I saw him, we were dancing on my birthday,” she said. “I can’t process this, because I live three miles away [from the crime scene] and nothing like this has ever happened.”
Friends remember Cross as loud, loyal, and cheerful. His family is asking for prayers.
Police said Meredith Hight, 27, had recently filed for divorce from her husband. The couple married on September 11, 2011 and stopped living together back in March.
CBS 11 spoke with Meredith’s mother, Debbie Lane, as she drove from her home in Atlanta, Georgia to Plano. Lane claimed her daughter wanted a divorce because Spencer was an alcoholic and was physically abusive. In the divorce papers filed in July Meredith had citied “discord or conflict of personalities” as one of the reasons for the broken marriage.
Lane said her daughter did not take the decision to file for divorce lightly. “After two years of trying to get him in treatment, trying to get him to stop, trying to help him… she said, enough is enough. She made every effort she could… and could leave that relationship with no regrets.”
Lane said she talked to her daughter the day before the shooting and that she was busy planning and preparing for the football watch party. Lane said Meredith was her only child.
Police said all of the victims were in their 20s and 30s.
The death toll from the house on Spring Creek now stands at nine. Seven victims were dead at the scene, two others were injured and taken to a local hospital Sunday night, but one of them died from their injuries on Monday. Police say the believed gunman, Spencer Hight, was still firing his weapon when the first officer arrived and was also shot and killed.
The last surviving victim remains hospitalized. Their condition isn’t known.