An American Fork woman who was reportedly shot and killed by a high school teacher from Lehi had been decorating a Christmas tree with the teacher’s 3-year-old twins before the shooting on Sunday.
The mother of Lisa Vilate Williams, 26, said her daughter had made homemade ornaments with the children to decorate the tree, according to a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
“She was so kind, sweet, generous, loving, and brought joy and excitement to every aspect of life. Please share the beauty of her life rather than the monster that ripped her from ours,” Tawny Williams wrote of her daughter.
Officers arrested Chelsea Watrous Cook, 32, after she reportedly shot Lisa Williams several times at an apartment in Midvale near 7690 S. Center Square.
Police said Williams suffered at least two gunshot wounds to her chest. She died from her injuries soon after being transported to a local hospital.
“She was magic, and I want her remembered for how she lived and not for how she was killed,” Tawny Williams wrote on her Facebook post.
The family created a GoFundMe page on Tuesday and donations totaled nearly $9,200 by Wednesday.
According to the page, Williams “sought out life” like buying and reviving dying plants at a store or planning Parisian-themed dates.
“Everywhere Lisa went, she spread beauty and happiness. She loved all of the small things and was enamored with making every little thing special and beautiful,” a family member wrote on the page.
The shooting on Sunday occurred just before 7 p.m. when Cook reportedly came to the apartment to drop off cold medicine for one of her children, according to a probable cause statement from the Unified Police Department.
Cook’s ex-husband was in the parking lot when she entered the apartment.
“(Cook) was told to leave the apartment, but she refused to listen. (She) remained unlawfully inside of the apartment during this time” and locked herself in the bathroom to call 911, the probable cause statement reported.
She then reportedly left the bathroom, walked to her coat, pulled out a handgun and fired three to five shots at Williams.
Williams fell back on the couch and the ex-husband, who had returned to the apartment, grabbed the handgun from Cook, police said.
“(Cook) then walked over to their children and sat on the recliner chair” as the ex-husband tried to help Williams, the probable cause statement stated.
Cook reportedly stood up and walked back to her coat before the ex-husband pinned her against the wall until police officers arrived.
The couple’s 3-year-old twins were in the room during the shooting, said Sgt. Brandon Shearer with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Cook is being held at the Salt Lake County Jail on a $1 million bail.
Cook taught health and yoga at Skyridge High School in Lehi at the time of her arrest.
She had been employed by the district for four years and previously worked at Lehi High School, said Kimberly Bird, a spokesperson for Alpine School District.
Cook was immediately fired following the shooting, Bird explained.
Counselors for employees and students plan to be at Skyridge High School throughout the week.
The district did not know Cook was already facing three misdemeanor charges for a domestic violence incident in October.
Justice court records show Cook had pleaded not guilty on Nov. 13 to assault and two counts of domestic violence in front of a child, all class B misdemeanors.
The incident happened in Herriman, and a pretrial conference was scheduled for Dec. 18.
The district was not aware of the pending charges since Cook did not self-report the incident as required for licensed school teachers per Utah Administrative Code.
Bird did not know why the statewide notification system did not notify the school district about the criminal charges. District officials are usually notified about any criminal activity committed by public employees when fingerprints are taken during a criminal investigation.
In 2013, Cook received her secondary education teaching license in health education with Brigham Young University as the recommending institution. Records with the Utah State Board of Education shows her license was renewed in 2016.
Funeral services for Williams were announced Wednesday by Spilsbury Mortuary of Hurricane and St. George. Public viewings are set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday at Centennial Park Chapel in Centennial Park, Arizona. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Friday. Interment will take place in Centennial Park Cemetery following the services.
The obituary notes that Williams was raised in Colorado City, Arizona. She graduated from Centennial Park Academy in 2011 before moving to Salt Lake City in late 2015 to care for her sister.
Williams is preceded in death by her brother, Curtis John Williams, and is survived by her parents, a grandmother and 24 siblings.