A 27-year-old Texas woman was fatally shot along with seven of her friends when her estranged husband opened fire at a football watch party Sunday at her Plano home, her family says.
Meredith Lane Hight, who filed for divorce from the gunman, Spencer Hight, in July, was hosting a party to watch her hometown Atlanta Falcons game during the afternoon and the local Dallas Cowboys game Sunday night, her mother told the Dallas Morning News.
Just before 8 p.m., Spencer Hight was involved in an argument at the home, which the couple owned together, and began shooting, witnesses said. He shot nine people, including his wife. One victim survived the rampage, according to police. A responding Plano police officer, who heard the gunshots and rushed into the home, fatally shot Hight, authorities said.
The shooting happened about 8 p.m. Sunday in the 1700 block of West Spring Creek Parkway, near Custer Road, according to KXAS-TV.
Police confirmed Spencer Hight was the gunman in a press release Tuesday, and identified the victims, including Meredith Hight. According to police, the other victims were two women and five men. The women were identified as Olivia Deffner, 24, and Myah Bass, 28. The men killed in the shooting were: Tony Cross, 33; James Dunlop, 29; Darryl Hawkins, 22; Rion Morgan, 31; and Caleb Edwards, 25. You can read more about the victims here.
Several of the victims and those attending the party had been friends with both Spencer and Meredith Hight, including Dunlop, who was the best man at their wedding in 2012, and Morgan, who was a groomsman, WFAA-TV reports. After the couple separated, Dunlop took Spencer Hight in to his apartment for a few months, according to the news station.
Police are not looking for any other suspects.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Witnesses Say There Was an Argument Before Dozens of Gunshots Rang Out in the Quiet Plano Neighborhood
Witnesses say the shooting occurred after an argument broke out during a party to watch the Dallas Cowboys play the New York Giants in a Sunday Night Football game, the first of the year for the Texas NFL team, KDFW-TV reports.
Meredith Hight was hosting a party for the first time since separating from her husband.
“She was a cook, and a quite fine one, and she loved hosting friends and families,” Debbie Lane told WFAA-TV. “This was her first opportunity to do it after the divorce and he didn’t take it well.”
Police Chief Greg Rushin told reporters, “They were having a cookout that afternoon and they were getting prepared to watch the Cowboys football game. There was a party at the residence. Any time you have a homicide it’s disturbing, and certainly when you have this many, we’ve never seen anything like this in our city before. Many times you do see family violence situations that occur in many cities across the country, and those can become very volatile very quickly.”
Some of the victims were found in the backyard and others inside the house, but the entire shooting rampage was contained to that one property, the chief said. Rushin said he did not know how many people were at the party when the shooting occurred. He would not comment about how many people witnessed the shooting and survived.
Lane told the news station, “I really wish we knew who the other victims were. They were all close dear friends. We don’t know.”
Crystal Sugg, a witness, told reporters that she saw an altercation involving a woman and the shooter about 7:45 p.m.
“A man was arguing with a woman. They were standing outside and they were arguing,” Sugg said. “And as they were arguing you could kind of hear little pieces of it, but you really couldn’t. And as they were arguing, the woman was trying to go back in. And as she was going back in the house, you seen the man pull out his gun and just start releasing. So as he released I ran back in, because I didn’t want to get hit by nothing. But he just started letting them go.”
Police have not said if they know of a motive for the shooting or confirmed the details reported by Sugg.
Witnesses told reporters at the scene that they heard 30 to 40 shots coming from the house. It is not clear if those shots also include the bullets fired by responding police officers.
Plano Police officers were called to a “weapons call” about 8 p.m. at the West Spring Creek Parkway home, according to radio transmissions recorded on a police scanner. Police Chief Gregory Rushin said the first officer arrived at the scene in less than two minutes.
The dispatch audio reveals that the caller said there was somebody with a gun trying to get into her home. When officers arrived, they heard and saw shots being fired inside the home, and shortly after, the gunman was shot dead by police, according to the scanner audio. You can listen to the dispatch audio below, courtesy of Broadcastify.com:
The officers reported that at least eight people were shot inside the home, and called for several ambulances to respond to the scene. One of the officers was near the scene when the call came in and was the first to go into the house.
“After (the officer) heard the gunshots, he made entry and that’s when he observed several victims inside and then engaged the suspect,” police spokesman David Tilley told the Dallas Morning News.
Rushin said the officer approached the scene from the rear of the house and immediately entered after hearing the gunshots.
“Law enforcement across the country are trained in active shooter (situations),” Rushin said. “When somebody is actively taking people’s lives, we know we need to get in there as quickly as possible. We train to wait for a partner and go in two at a time. When something like this occurs, you can’t wait. You have to go in because seconds matter. And this officer went directly into fire, where fire was taking place, and stopped the shooter’s ability to kill people. I think the officer showed great bravery and this is the kind of thing we see everyday in law enforcement.”
2. Meredith Hight Filed for Divorce in July, Citing ‘Discord or Conflict of Personalities’ After Spencer Moved Out of the Home in March
Meredith Lane Hight, 27, filed for divorce from her husband, Spencer James Hight, on July 17, according to Collin County court records obtained by Heavy. The case was still pending in the 470th District Court. Hight hired an attorney, Logan Odeneal, while her husband was representing himself, according to court records. Odeneal could not immediately be reached for comment and documents related to the case were not available.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Meredith Hight cited “discord or conflict of personalities” in her divorce filing. They did not have any children together.
They were married in May 2012, according to social media postings. Collin County property records obtained by Heavy show they bought the home where the shooting occurred, located at 1712 West Spring Creek Parkway, together on October 9, 2015.
In May, a few months before filing for divorce, Meredith Hight posted on Facebook about wanting to rent out a room in the home to help with her expenses.
“Who needs a place to live? (3bd/2ba house w yard and garage) I’m needing some help with the bills starting anywhere from 2 weeks from now to a month or so, but need a roommate by July,” she wrote. “Some things to remember: 2 large pitbulls live here, and they only do well with other large dogs. I would need our animals to meet before committing to any agreement. No kids (sorry not sorry, I love your kids but they would not love it here). I intend to fix this place up and rent or sell down the line so lease terms would be short term to six months at a time.”
It is not clear if she had roommates living in the home at the time of the shooting.
Spencer Hight was living at an apartment in Plano, according to the Dallas Morning News. Neighbors there told the newspaper that police raided his apartment about 1 a.m. Monday with a search warrant. His Facebook post show he expressed anger about the end of his marriage.
In May, he shared a meme about what to do if your ex-wife is choking:
“Well. Someone is bitter lol ?,” a friend replied.
In April, he wrote about his “ex-wife” forgetting to pick him up at the airport.
“Wonderful ex wife left me stranded at the airport after swearing all week she would pick me up…And now she’s ignoring my calls. Typical. Welcome back to Dallas,” he wrote.
When friends expressed surprise about the “ex-wife” reference, he replied, “Things have gone completely tits up over the last few months.”
Another post appeared to reference Meredith Hight, who had red hair. He wrote in April, “Very easy to believe gingers are completely soulless now.”
3. She Studied Applied Mathematics in College, Worked as a Model & Restaurant Manager & Ran an Online Business
Meredith Hight, who was originally from Georgia, studied applied mathematics at the University of Texas at Dallas, a school that Spencer Hight also attended, according to her Linkedin profile. She attended the college from 2008 to 2013.
While in school, Meredith Hight worked as a restaurant manager at Raising Cane’s. After leaving that job, she ran an online business for a period of time, selling products for the company It Works, according to her Instagram account.
She also was a model, and in July, shared a photo from one of her shoots:
“She was our only child,” her father, Gene Lane, told The Washington Post. “All we know is she is gone.”
4. She Was a Major Fan of the Band 311, Traveling to Shows & Other Events Around the Country
Meredith Hight was a huge fan of the band 311, according to her Facebook page. She was friends with many people in the 311 fan community, and traveled to several shows each year. In February, she posted her excitement about going on a 311 cruise for the second time.
Her friends from the 311 community and elsewhere shared tributes to her on Facebook after word of her death spread on Monday.
Jose Miranda wrote a touching post including a photo of her on a hike:
There are few people on this planet that I have met who’s light immediately shined through like yours. Those special few that get it. I can safely say you were one of those especially bright lights in what can sometimes seem like a dark world. It was an overwhelming honor to get to know you, hear some of your stories, share some of our trials and tribulations as well as our hopes and dreams, and most importantly…spend such fleeting moments together full of smiles and laughter. To know you these past few years and share a few of the best moments of my life…well you know…no words can accurately describe those once in a lifetime experiences so why try. Those friends and family you leave behind. Know that my thoughts and prayers go out to you at this most difficult of times as well. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to hear your stories too which I am sure are as plentiful and bright as the stars in the sky. My heart aches writing this but know that I and so many others will keep you close always Meredith. I refuse to let this be the end of your story. I will keep pushing for as long as I can not to waste the time I have left on this planet…the time that was so selfishly taken from you and those friends you were surrounded by on Sunday. Trust that you will be with me every step of the way Meredith. I will keep smiling and laughing for you to keep your light shining in my heart that way when we meet again we will have so many new stories to share and you will have not missed a thing. Rest In Peace love. Till that day…
Amanda Farr wrote, “I am completely heartbroken. The world lost the most beautiful, fierce, wicked smart, talented, witty, loving soul. Meredith Hight, my oldest friend, you will be more than missed. You shaped my childhood, and I know your passing will forever shape my life. I love you, girl. ❤️”
5. Police Are Continuing to Investigate What Led to the Tragic Shooting Rampage
There are still many questions about the circumstances surrounding the shooting and police said they are releasing few details because the investigation is continuing. More than 30 police officers were at the scene Sunday night, according to the Dallas Morning News. Police were at the home throughout the night and through the day Monday, the newspaper reports.
“I’ve been here all my life,” police spokesman David Tilley told the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
Plano averages about four to five homicides per year, according to online data.
The Texas Rangers were responding to the scene to lead the investigation into the officer-involved shooting, according to the newspaper. The officer who fatally shot Spencer Hight has been placed on paid administrative leave, as per department procedure, pending the completion of the Texas Rangers investigation.
Multiple firearms of different types were found at the scene, Police Chief Gregory Rushin said at a press conference Monday. He did not say what types of weapons were recovered, or if the guns all were brought by Spencer Hight. They are also looking into whether the guns were owned legally. Rushin also said investigators are still looking into whether anyone at the party returned fire at Hight after he began shooting. Rushin said it is not known yet how many gunshots were fired.
Police were investigating whether the shooting was connected to an earlier assault that occurred near the scene at a bar, according to radio dispatches. The officer who responded to that call said the victim told him one of the suspects in the assault matched the description of the shooter. The victim said two people were involved in that assault, but it is still unclear if the two incidents were connected, police said. It is still under investigation.
“I don’t know that we’ve established or figured that out yet,” Rushin said when asked about the shooting.
At least one other person was at the house and was not injured and refused medical treatment, according to emergency radio transmissions. Another person later told police she was at the house and fled when the shooting occurred, running to her parents’ house nearby. She told police there was only one gunman, Spencer Hight.
The Dallas Morning News described a heart-wrenching scene involving a person who said he knew the victims. The man asked those at the house what the number was where the shooting occurred, the newspaper reports:
When he was told the house number, he doubled over as if in pain. He said his friends had a Dallas Cowboys watch party.
‘I’m friends with probably everyone that was in that house,’ he said, before walking over to police.
As he talked to officers, he doubled over again. A few minutes later, he sprinted toward his car and drove away.
A neighbor, Lauryn Nichols, told the Dallas Morning News she was shocked by what happened. She said a friend had been at the house, but she was not sure what had happened to that person, according to the newspaper.
“I’m worried,” Nichols told the newspaper. “It’s like one big family here in Plano.”