UTAH (AFP): A man shot and killed his family of seven, including five children, then turned the gun on himself after his wife filed for divorce, US officials said Thursday.
Police in the small Utah settlement of Enoch City found eight bodies — one of them that of a four-year-old — after being called by friends and relatives who were concerned for the family.
A spokesman said officers had discovered three adults and five children at a single-family home on Wednesday, all dead from what appeared to be gunshot wounds.
“Evidence suggests that the suspect took his own life after killing seven others in the home,” a statement from the city said, naming him as 42-year-old Michael Haight.
The dead were his wife, her mother, and the couple’s five children — three girls and two boys aged between four and 17.
Enoch Mayor Geoffrey Chesnut said the shooting came after an apparent marital breakdown.
“It appears, according to court documents, that (a divorce petition) was filed on the 21st of December and it was filed by the wife,” he told reporters.
Chesnut said Enoch was a small, close-knit community where people knew each other.
“The Haights were my neighbors,” he said.
“Their youngest children played in my yard with my sons.”
An investigation into the multiple killings was under way but police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the crime.
Chief Jackson Ames said officers were familiar with the family.
“We had been involved in some investigations with this family a couple of years prior,” he said, declining to give further details.
Enoch is a rural city of around 7,500 people in the southwest of Utah. It sits about three-and-a-half hours’ drive from Salt Lake City.
The state is known as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose members are popularly known as Mormons, a conservative Christian sect that places strong emphasis on family, but which historically encouraged polygamy.