Harriet Sokmensuer
September 15, 2017 05:09 PM

Meredith Hight, the Texas woman whose estranged husband fatally shot her Sunday along with seven other people during a football watching party at her Plano residence before being fatally shot by police, left the man because of his drinking, a friend tells PEOPLE.

“She [told] me that Spencer [Hight] had an alcohol problem and she wanted him to go to rehab but she couldn’t get him to,” Meredith’s friend and hairdresser, Adriana Vega, tells PEOPLE. “She told me that a doctor said if he would not stop drinking in a year he would die.”

In July, Meredith filed for divorce from her husband of six years, according to Collin County court records. Vega says her friend realized she had to take care of herself first.

“I told her to do what was best for her so she could move on with her life, because I didn’t want her to feel trapped in this marriage that she didn’t have to stay in,” she says.

Meredith Hight
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According to Meredith’s mother, Spencer was having trouble moving on from the separation.

 

On Sunday night, Meredith, 27, who was hosting a cookout and football watching party, was fatally shot along with seven of her friends.

Police arrived at the scene and fatally shot Spencer.

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

Besides Meredith, 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 25-year-old Caleb Seth Edwards.

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Vega met the Hights six years ago through a friend, she says. Immediately, she and Meredith hit it off, while Spencer, she recalls, was distant.

“Spencer never talked to me very much but it was kind of weird. I tried talking to him but he kept to himself. I think he was very detached,” Vega says.

Spencer Hight

 

Vega says when she met Meredith, the couple, who wed in May 2011, were newly married and seemed very much in love. However, things became strained when Spencer was laid off from his job in 2013 and began drinking excessively, Meredith told Vega.

Meredith, who worked at home for Coca Cola Industries, tried to remain positive but found it difficult because of Spencer’s negativity.

After a few years of trying to make it work, Meredith decided to separate from Spencer, who spent most of his time playing video games or building cigar box ukuleles to sell.

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Newly single, Meredith was able to host parties like she had done when she first was married, Vega says.

“She just had a really positive energy,” Vega says. “He would hold her back from doing so many [things]. She was being a free spirit.”

The cookout and party Meredith hosted on Sunday was the first party she had hosted since her separation, says Vega, who was invited but had to work.

Despite everything the couple had been through, Vega says she knows Meredith was having a hard time with the divorce.

“That had to be hard for her, whether or not she was excited [for the cookout], it was hard. She loved him,” Vega says.

Spencer’s father, Chester Hight, said his family is devastated by the shooting — grieving the deaths of his son, daughter-in-law and those killed at the party.

“I’m so sorry,” Chester said, according to CBS News. He told the Dallas Morning News, the family is living a “nightmare.”

Vega says, “I just don’t think anyone deserves to go that way. I don’t understand it and probably none of us ever will.”

Meredith and Spencer’s families could not be reached for comment.

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