The estranged husband of a 27-year-old Plano, Texas, woman has been named as the gunman who went on a deadly rampage and fatally shot his soon-to-be ex-wife and seven of her friends Sunday night at a Dallas Cowboys viewing party she hosted, PEOPLE confirms.
The Plano Police Department identified Spencer Hight, 32, as the gunman who took the lives of his estranged wife, Meredith Emily Hight, and seven of her friends in the worst mass shooting in the city’s history. Two other victims survived the shooting and were taken to the hospital, where one later died, say police.
In addition to Lane, the deceased victims have been identified as Anthony Michael Cross, 33; Olivia Nicole Deffner, 24; James Richard Dunlop, 29; Darryl William Hawkins, 22; Rion Christopher Morgan, 31; Myah Sade Bass, 28; and Caleb Seth Edwards, 25.
Plano shooting victims. Top row, L-R: Meredith Lane Hight, Rion Morgan, Tony Cross, Olivia Deffner. Bottom row, L-R: Myah Bass, Caleb Edwards, James Dunlop, Darryl Hawkins
The mass shooting rocked the normally peaceful Dallas suburb. “We’ve never had a shooting of this magnitude,” Plano Police Chief Gregory Rushin said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “We’re one of the safest cities in the country. It’s just a terrible event, and our hearts go out to the families and loved ones.”
Next of kin have been notified, say police. All victims were located in the backyard or the inside of the home. No children were involved in the shooting. Police did not specify which victim died at the hospital.
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Hight was shot and killed by an officer who responded immediately to several reports of multiple gunshots at the residence, the chief said.
Lane’s family is devastated.
“She was our only child,” her father, Gene Lane told The Washington Post. “All we know is she is gone.”
Trying to Build a New Life
After getting married in May 2011, Meredith and Spencer bought a house together about two years ago – the home where the shooting took place, her mother, Debbie Lane, told the Dallas Morning News.
The couple’s relationship began to deteriorate a couple years ago, Debbie Lane told local news station NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth.
Debbie Lane had traveled from Georgia to help Meredith set up the party.
“It was officially ‘out with the old and in with the new,’” Debbie Lane told local news station WFAA. “It was her reclaiming her life, and she was thrilled to be doing that. It was the happiest she’d been in years. Years.”
“I think he saw our comfort, ease, and happiness… and her embracing new life, and resented it to the maximum and responded the way he did,” Debbie Lane told the news station.
“He was not moving on,” she said. “And she was.”
A Gathering Marred by Horrific Violence
At about 8 p.m. Sunday night, an officer responded to calls about multiple shots being fired at the home, say police. When the officer entered the backyard, he found two victims outside. When he went inside the house, he saw more shooting victims, say police.
“The officer found the suspect inside and ended his shooting spree,” the chief said.
Spencer Hight “came to the party with numerous weapons,” Rushin said.
Police are still investigating the incident.
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One of the victims, Caleb Edwards, was Meredith’s roommate. Another victim, James Dunlop, was a longtime friend. Rion Morgan was in Meredith’s wedding party.
“They were fine, fine young men. The best. The best,” Lane told the news station.
Lane said her daughter was a supervisor at Coca-Cola. She earned a math degree from University of Texas at Dallas, she said.
“She was one of those people who felt life was a gift,” Lane said.
PEOPLE’s calls for comment to the Plano Police Department and to the Lane and Hight families were not immediately returned.