Estranged Husband Guns Down Wife at West High School

May. 24, 2004

A man shot and killed his estranged wife then took his own life.

And he did it in the parking lot of her workplace, which happens to be West High School.

Thatís where Jill Atwood is now.

The 39 year woman showed up for work this morning and her husband was waiting, the two had been married for 23 years but just recently she had asked him for a divorce.

Family and friends of Marisela Lavalle cling to each other...the news still sinking in...the pain evident on their faces.

Lavalle worked in the school cafeteria...she arrived here at West High just after 6 in the morning, moments later she was dead.

Veone Voyington/Witness:"I WAS SITTING IN THE OFFICE I HEARD THREE POPS AND THEN ONE POP."

Det. Dwayne Baird/Salt Lake City Police Dept.:"AT THAT POINT HE PULLED OUT A GUN AND SHOT HER THREE TIMES AND THEN TOOK HIS OWN LIFE."

Police say their long marriage was coming to an end.

Family and friends knew Lavalleís husband...Federico Cervantes, was devestated.

"FROM MY UNDERSTANDING SHE HAD SERVED HIS WITH DIVORCE PAPERS AT THEIR RESIDENCE WHERE THEY HAD STAYING WITH A FRIEND ABOUT 8 OR 9 DAYS AGO..SHE DID NOT KNOW WHERE HE HAD GONE TO AFTER THAT..HE HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR HER FINALLY FOUND HER THIS MORNING AND CONFRONTED HER."

Fortunately, students were not in class at the time of the shooting....still word traveled fast and many students took it hard.

Margery Parker/West High School Principal:"THEY ARE BEING VERY MATURE AND GOING TO CLASS...THERE ARE A FEW THAT WANT TO SPEAK WITH GUIDANCE PEOPLE..WE HAVE A ROOM SET UP..GUIDANCE COUSELORS..SET UP IN ROOM."

Police say there is no record of domestic violence or prior problems between the two.

They leave behind three grown children.

The principal made the decision to keep school in session...they just simply closed the blinds on this side of the school so the kids werenít distracted.

But certainly a tough scene for everyone involved out here this morning.