SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) “We went for Valentine’s cards,” said Carolyn Tuft.
It was February 2007 at Trolley Square.
“We had only been at the mall for three minutes before we were shot.”
Panic strikes Trolley Square. 911 calls flood dispatch.
Police swarm the area as they look for the gunman. He’s later identified as Sulejman Talović, 19, armed with a shotgun and a handgun.
He sees Carolyn Tuft through a store window.
“He shot me through the window and came into the store,” Tuft said. “The second shot blew my arm off and my lung.”
Police enter Trolley Square while Tuft fights for every breath, drags her body toward Kristin who is also shot.
“I could feel myself dying. I could feel myself shutting down,” said Tuft.
Talovich continues firing inside the store and returns to Tuft.
“I thought he was gone. And then I felt the gun pushing really hard on my back to stop me from moving and I heard the gunshot and felt the blast.”
In all, three gunshots to her arm, shoulder and back. She’s till alive only to witness something even more horrific.
“I watched him put the gun to her head and blow the back of her head off,” said Tuft.
“I wanted to tell her I love her. But I didn’t get a chance to.”
Eventually Talovich is shot multiple times. Police say Talovich, an immigrant from Bosnia acted alone killing five people and wounding four more.
To this day, no one knows why he did it.
“When I first came to and opened my eyes, I was really surprised that I was still here,” said Tuft. “I remember being so lonely, trying to put all the pieces together. I had no idea it was such a big deal in the community.”
“They weren’t letting any flowers or stuffed animals or anything, anything. I just remember being so lonely and isolated.
Weeks later Tuft and her family say good-bye to Kirsten. More than 1,000 come out, complete with an honor guard.
“Kirsten would not believe that she had that kind of funeral. I am so honored that they did that for her. She deserved it,” said Tuft. “And it’s been 10 years since I haven’t seen her. And here it is. It’s just as painful.
Not only a broken heart, but there’s physical pain. Her body still carries the lead pellets from the shot gun blasts. There’s been countless surgeries, rehabilitation and without medical insurance, the bills keep pilling up.
They say time heals, but not for her.
“That’s not true. Time heals some things. It doesn’t heal all it changes things. But it doesn’t heal a broken heart when your child is missing. There’s always that hole in your family.”
Now Tuft is a voice for Kirsten, championing efforts to stop gun violence. She even meets the opposition face to face.