ENOCH, Utah (ABC4) — The community in Enoch City is grieving after learning about the alleged murder-suicide involving the Haight family.
“Everyone I’ve talked to since the event has all been very surprised,” said neighbor Garrett Minkler. “This is not something anyone expected.”
In a press conference on Thursday, Enoch City officials said they believe Michael Haight, 42, an insurance salesman, shot his wife, Tausha Haight, 40; her mother, Gail Earl, 78; and his and Tausha’s five children, including three girls ages 17, 12, and 7, and two boys, ages 7 and 4. Haight appears to have taken his own life after killing the other seven.
“Losing the Haights is hard because, from what we saw, from the outside, they were good examples in the community that we loved dearly,” Minkler said.
Authorities responded to a welfare check on Wednesday around 4 p.m. and found eight members of the family dead in their home with gunshot wounds.
Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson said it is hard to describe the loss the community is experiencing at the moment.
“The most important thing I can say right now is that the community is feeling remorse, feeling pain,” Dotson said. “There are friends, neighbors, and family members who are hurting right now because of this incident.”
A tight-knit community, Enoch is a rural city in southwest Utah with about 8,000 residents. Many of them are shaken and affected by this tragedy. Friends and neighbors told ABC4 that they were outstanding individuals who were devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I was shocked,” said Becky Thurgood, Tausha Haight’s best friend of 17 years. “I am still trying to process that she is gone and that her kids are gone.”
Thurgood said Tausha Haight was a joy to be around.
“[Tausha] was quick-witted,” she said. “She could make you laugh so easily. She was a rock for me during hard times.”
In a conversation they had last Sunday, Tausha Haight told Thurgood she was ready to move on to “a new chapter of her life with her kids.”
“If you know them, you’ll love them, especially Tausha,” she said. “I know that they are all going to be missed, and a huge void is now in a lot of people’s lives,”
Officials confirmed Tausha had filed for divorce from Michael on Dec. 21, but it is not clear if the two were still living together at the time of the alleged murders.
“We don’t know why this happened,” Dotson said. “No one will probably [ever] know what was going through the minds of these individuals. However, we do know they are our friends; they are our neighbors; and that we love them.”
Enoch City Council Member and liaison for the Iron County School District Richard Jenson confirmed in a Wednesday night Facebook post to the Iron County Schools Parents Group that the five children attended schools in his district.
As the case gains national attention, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden expressed their sorrows in a statement from the White House saying the President and First Lady are in mourning with the Enoch City community.
“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,” the statement 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.”
This case is still under investigation.
ABC4 crews will provide more updates as they become available.