October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose lives have been changed by domestic violence.

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Kait

In memory of Kirsten Hinckley

On February 12, 2007, my sister Kirsten and I were bickering about what to wear to go shopping. I got a call from work; they needed me to come in. Our plans changed, and my sister and my mom, Carolyn Tuft, would go without me. They dropped me off at work, and drove to Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As soon as they walked in, they heard a distant “pop pop” and looked at each other. My mom dismissed the idea that it was gunfire. They headed to Cabin Fever, a card shop, full of pink neon lights, bizarre cards and one-of-a-kind gifts. My sister picked up a gum packet with a picture that made her laugh, and told my mom that I would love it. Another “pop.” This time it was loud, and close. My mom went to see what it was, but all she could see was the reflection of the neon lights in the glass wall. Then a bright flash, a loud bang, and shattered glass was falling on her. Kirsten shouted “Get down, Mom!” She walked towards Kirsten just as a teenager in a trench coat walked into the store. My mom stopped dead in her tracks, standing just feet away from him, looked the boy in the eyes, and braced herself. The first shot slammed her down on the ground. She lay there bleeding, hearing all the other gunshots as he went around the shop, then left.

Once he was gone, my mom could hear my sister, quietly crying, gasping and wincing in pain. My mom dragged herself across the floor to my sister. As she reached out to hold Kirsten’s hand, she felt the barrel of the gun push into her back. She told Kirsten “I love you” just as she felt her body slam into the floor again. She watched as he ended Kirsten’s life. From the time they parked the car, to the time Kirsten was dead, was three minutes.

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