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A Salt Lake City man has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of three people, including a grandmother and her baby granddaughter, whose bodies were found Friday in their home.
Police identified the suspect as Alexander Hung Tran, 32.
Salt Lake City Detective Richard Chipping said Tran lived in the basement of the house at 600 North block of Sir Philip Drive (near 2000 West) and was letting the victims stay with him. Two of the three people found dead in the northwest Salt Lake City home were identified as Heike Poike, 50, and her 2-month-old granddaughter, Lyrik Poike.
Police identified the man who died as Dakota Smith, 28.
Police do not know what Tran's motive would have been.
Heinz Poike, Heike Poike's father, said the deaths of his daughter and great-granddaughter were shocking.
A granddaughter called him Friday night and said she had heard on the news that something had happened at their address, said Poike, who lives in Salt Lake City. He rushed to the house and learned of the shootings.
Poike, 85, doesn't know what relationship his daughter had with Tran, who he said is the homeowner and has a living space downstairs. The baby and the 8-year-old also lived with Heike Poike at the house, he said.
He had no idea "if she (Heike) had someone who didn't like her," Poike said. As for baby Lyrik, he said, "That little thing, she couldn't hurt anyone." "I don't know what happened," Poike said. "I'd like to know what happened."
As the sun set on Saturday, about 40 friends and former neighbors of the victims gathered outside the Sir Philip Drive home, laying teddy bears and candles on the front steps. The y put their arms around each other, shed tears and remembered a grandmother who do anything for her family, Lyrik included.
"Heike could not show any more love than she did," said Cristine Morales, a friend of the family. "She was the best grandma ever… She would give the shirt off her back for grandchildren and her daughter."
Heike Poike posted a picture of her smiling granddaughter on her Facebook page at 7:33 p.m. Thursday, the day before the bodies were discovered. She wrote, "Time for Lyrik to go to bed. Nite nite everybody."
Heike Poike and her grandchildren had moved into the home only six to eight weeks ago, said family friend Camille Speaker, who is caring for Heike Poike's 8-year-old grandson. His sister and grandmother's deaths were "a senseless act," Speaker said.
"Nobody's perfect, but she [Lyrik] was," Speaker added.
When Tayzia Cordova became friends with Lyrik's mother, she learned that their daughters were born only two days apart in July. When Cordova first heard about Lyrik and Heidi Poike's deaths, she started crying.
"How can anybody do that," Cordova asked. "An innocent little girl got killed for nothing. It's unbelievable."
Morales, too, questioned who "in their right mind could hurt a baby?"
Officers started looking for the family after being alerted by Escalante Elementary at about 2 p.m. Friday that an 8-year-old boy had not been picked up by his grandmother, Poike.
Police went to the boy's house, and an officer saw a body under a tarp through the living room window, according to a jail probable-cause statement. Officers entered through an open back door and located Tran and a gun.
Police then searched the house and found the victims, who had died from gunshot wounds, the probable-cause statement says. It alleges that Tran "admitted the murders and used a gun to do it."
Chipping said Tran was compliant during the arrest.
Tran has no criminal history, according to Utah court records, except for unresolved misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and an insurance violation. Tran was charged with those in Salt Lake City Justice Court on Aug. 27. When he failed to appear in court Sept. 10, a judge ordered a bench warrant.