Friends, neighbors speak after alleged murder-suicide in Salt Lake City

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 19:44:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Kelsa Afton didn't know how to break the news to her two young girls that their friend and neighbor, 8-year-old Xavier, had been killed.

"He was just here a couple of days ago, knocking on the door seeing if they wanted to play," Afton said.

Salt Lake City Police say 46-year-old Moses Waters shot and killed 8-year-old Xavier Lucero-Waters before turning the gun on himself Tuesday. Friends and neighbors say Waters was Xavier's father.

Xavier and his family had been out of the Road Home Shelter for years. That's where Ashley Hoopes met Xavier, when she was a volunteer teacher for the Road Home's preschool. Hoopes says, despite the hard times, Xavier always had a smile on his face.

"To think about that light going out and him not being around was heartbreaking," Hoopes said.

Afton says this story didn't start with tragedy.

"They seemed like a very happy family," Afton said. "We had a water balloon fight a few weeks ago, and they were all outside participating."

Afton said Waters and his son had a good relationship.

"Moses to me was an amazing person," Afton said. "I've never seen a dark side of him."

Hoopes said that dark side may have come to light because of mental illness.

"This is a father who was severely mentally ill," Hoopes said. "He was bipolar. He wasn't taking his medication."

Afton says Waters had attempted suicide a few months ago.

"He cut his pinky off," Afton said. "I asked her about it because I saw him being transported to the hospital, and she did say he struggles with bipolar disorder."

In and out of homeless shelters, hospitals, and jail, Waters was familiar with the system.

"I think when you have a state like we have in Utah that buries its head in the sand when it comes to mental illness, this is the way it ends," Hoopes said.

Afton says despite his mental issues, Waters was always generous and kind.

"I've had some trials and health issues myself, and he's brought my laundry up to me," Afton said. "He's asked me if I needed help every time in passing. He's asked me how I was doing."

Struggles that ultimately caused a tragedy, leaving a mother left alone to grieve the loss of the two people closest to her.