Carolyn Tuft watched her 15-year-old die during a 2007 mall shooting in Salt Lake City, changing her life forever

By Elaine Aradillas
February 03, 2020 12:40 PM

It only took three minutes for Carolyn Tuft to lose everything important to her.

On Feb. 12, 2007, Tuft took her 15-year-old daughter Kirsten to buy valentines for her friends at Trolley Square, a mall in Salt Lake City.

“We parked the car, walked in, and in three minutes she was dead,” Tuft tells PEOPLE. “She was laughing and holding a couple of these gum packets when a guy came in – he just went randomly shooting through the mall.”

Victoria Stevens

Last month, six gun-violence survivors from around the country gathered for a roundtable discussion in New York City to talk about the shootings that forever altered their world and made them part of a club that no one ever wants to join.

“It’s so important to hear these stories, because for every one of them, for every statistic, that’s a family shattered,” says Sara Macaluso, whose father died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1992.

• Watch the full episode of People Features: Gun Violence Survivors Speak Out, streaming now on, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

PEOPLE partnered with the nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety for the roundtable discussion, moderated by actress and advocate Julianne Moore, ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which began Saturday and continues for a week.

“I’m so incredibly moved by them and struck by their bravery,” Moore tells PEOPLE. “What’s so brave and so amazing about these activists and survivors is that they are willing to change the culture, to change legislation, to make sure it doesn’t happen to another individual.”

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Tuft says her entire life changed in a matter of minutes. She was shot three times herself, and continues to suffer from her injuries.

“People don’t realize the impact it has. You can completely lose everything about yourself. I lost my daughter, everything I had dreamed for her,” she says. “I want to call her and say, ‘Look what I saw,’ or give her one of her favorite cookies.”