Police name father a suspect in killing of family in Utah

Slayings shock small town; police say community is safe

Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Eight family members, including five children, were found shot to death inside a rural Utah home on Wednesday, and police have named the father of the family as a suspect.

Officials identified the deceased in a press release as 42-year-old Michael Haight, his wife Tausha Haight, 40, their five children and 78-year-old Gail Earl, Tausha's mother. Michael Haight is suspected of killing his family and himself.


The children were all students in the Iron County School District. They were 17, 12, 4 and two 7-year-olds. Three were girls and the 4-year-old and one of the 7-year-olds were boys.

Deputies arrived at the residence in Enoch City to conduct a welfare check and discovered the grisly scene where three adults were also found dead, police said in a statement.

All of the deceased sustained gunshot wounds.

"At this time, we do not believe there is a threat to the public or that there are any suspects at large," Enoch City Police said in a press release.


Officials did not immediately release the names of the dead, but the family was widely known in the small town of Enoch, which is more than 200 miles south of Salt Lake City and home to about 8,000 residents.

The community is in shock over the tragedy, according to city manager Rob Dotson, who said the family of eight attended church and schools in the area, and that they were very active citizens.

The father of the family was an insurance agent, Dotson said, adding that no one ever noticed any issues or dysfunction in the family.

"This community at this time is hurting," he said in a statement, according to KSL TV. "They're feeling loss, they're feeling pain, they have a lot of questions, which is natural."

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox also expressed his condolences on Twitter.

"Our hearts go out to all those affected by this senseless violence. Please keep the community of Enoch in your prayers," he said.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson also said on Twitter that she was "praying for the community of Enoch tonight."

The Iron County School District -- where all five children attended classes -- sent a letter to parents on Wednesday expressing sadness and offering grief counselors to help students, parents and school employees cope.


"We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child as needed," the letter said.

Late Wednesday night, investigators were still combing over the crime scene in the 4900 block of Albert Drive, however, they would not provide further information about the shooting, including the type of weapon that was used.

It was also not clear who called police to the home for the welfare check or whether that person witnessed the shooting. Some concerned neighbors stood outside their homes in the cold after police and news crews arrived at the home.

"We won't know the mindsets, the thoughts of the individuals who experienced this tragedy. But we all can pray ... that their families and the neighbors, and all will come to an understanding of what happened in this place," Dotson said. "We still are gathering mountains of information to make sure that everything is done correctly."

The White House released a statement Thursday saying President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were in mourning with Enoch City.

"Too many Americans have lost loved ones or had their lives forever changed due to gun violence, and gun violence remains the leading cause of death for children in America," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "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."


According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more than 20,000 gun deaths and 38,300 gun injuries in the United States last year.

So far for 2023, there have been 10 mass shootings, 238 gun deaths and 500 gun injuries, it said.

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