Shots that rang out in a newly annexed neighborhood of South Salt Lake early Friday morning left a woman and her 12-year-old daughter dead.
Police responding to the scene found the bodies of Debbie Loiselle, 41 and her daughter, Candice Cheney, in a bedroom. But police aren't certain if the deaths at 496 E. 3400 South are the result of a murder-suicide or a double homicide.
However, police are treating the incident as a double homicide until more information is known, said South Salt Lake Police Capt. Beau Babka.
Christian Balliett, 42, Loiselle's boyfriend, who also lived in the basement home, refused to allow police back into the home after paramedics trying to resuscitate Cheney took her to a waiting ambulance. He was taken into custody for questionning.
His refusal meant police had to obtain a search warrant Friday morning before re-entering the home to process the crime scene and remove Loiselle's body.
The initial "shots fired" 911 call was dispatched at 2:43 a.m. Both victims were shot in the head. Loiselle was dead at the scene, but her daughter was still breathing when paramedics arrived. Cheney died only a few minutes later on a stretcher in the parking lot of nearby Granite High School.
A student at Lincoln Elementary School, Cheney was found lying in her bed, and police believe she was probably asleep at the time of the shooting. Loiselle's body was nearby. Both bodies will be examined by the state medical examiner's office.
A .9mm handgun, believed to be the weapon used in the shootings, was found near the bodies.
The shootings rocked this close-knit neighborhood, which awoke to the sound of police sirens. Many stood on the streets in tears as they learned about the little girl's death.
"She was a sweetheart," said Dena Pelca, whose daughter Keshia Rowley, 9, was Cheney's playmate. "People shouldn't die like this. Cheney didn't even have a chance."
Together, the two girls roamed the neighborhood with Cheney's dog, a Rottweiler named Phoenix. They teased Rowley's younger brother James, jumped on the trampoline and stayed up talking until midnight on sleepovers.
"She was cool," a tearful Rowley said. "I'm going to miss her."
Loiselle, her daughter and Balliett moved to the neighborhood in June, landlord and neighbor Trisha Smith said. Loiselle stayed at home, caring for her daughter, while Balliett, a self-employed carpet layer, worked. All three were well-liked in the neighborhood, she said.
Cheney, especially, was a favorite with everyone because she was so friendly, kind and caring, Smith said.
"They are nice, nice people, real sociable," Smith said. "I just can't believe this happened."