‘He was shaking, he thought he saw someone die,’ says sister of student who witnessed Holladay shooting

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News)– On Thursday, five students and a bus driver in the Granite School District on their way home witnessed a man being shot by police in Holladay.

Unified Police shot and injured 49-year-old parole fugitive Eric Pectol after an altercation.

Gracia Huertas’ 13-year-old brother Kevin, who has emotional and behavioral disorders, was one of those students aboard the bus.

“He was shaking he doesn’t speak very well so him being in this state was hard to understand,” Huerta said. “He said that he heard he heard the gunshots and he saw the man fall to his knees and that he saw blood coming out of his ear”.

Doctor Doug Goldsmith is a child psychologist said the children who were on the bus so close to the event may have felt like they were going to be next.

“That they were going to get shot and die and never see mom and dad again and that leads to a level of terror that could qualify as we watch this unwind over the next couple days as post-traumatic stress,” Dr. Goldsmith said.

Huerta says her brother is already showing signs of PTSD.

“last night, he was having a hard time falling asleep,” Huerta said. “I know it’s hard right now but our kids are strong enough to get through it,” Huerta said.

Granite School District is offering support to Kevin and all others aboard the bus and Huerta said she is optimistic about the future and Kevin will be taking advantage of those resources. 

 “We had our crisis counseling team reach out to those families and a handful of them are coming into the school even though it’s a distance learning day to visit with counseling staff,” Ben Horsley with the district said.

The Granite School District and Salt Lake County offer resources for those struggling with trauma.

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