1 of 3
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Brighton High School students wrote chalk messages at the school Wednesday in Salt Lake County for their fellow student Kirsten Hinckley, who was killed by a gunman at Trolley Square.

While mourning 15-year-old Kirsten Hinckley and praying for her wounded mother, Carolyn Tuft, their family takes solace in what they say was one miracle at the Trolley Square shooting.

Tuft "was shot at point-blank range with a shotgun. It's a terrible wound. But what is miraculous is that it hit no vital organs and it did not hit the spine," said Robert Morgan, her brother-in-law and a family spokesman.

"She will have more surgery today, and she is in for a long haul and weeks of rehab. But it was a miracle. We're grateful for the miracle," Morgan said on Wednesday.

Tuft and her youngest of four children, Kirsten, went shopping for Valentines for their family and found themselves in the shooting, Morgan said.

According to police descriptions, they were among four people shot in the Cabin Fever novelty and card shop. Kirsten, a sophomore at Brighton High School, was among five shoppers killed in the mall on Monday.

Morgan said Tuft, who is divorced, "is a single mother of four. She ran her own cleaning service and has a meager income and no insurance" — and now faces some tough times physically, emotionally and financially.

He said no one is available to step in and take over her one-person cleaning service. So friends and family have established a trust fund in her name at Zions Bank for those who want to help her family.

"They are just two of the most guileless, sweet people I know. They have had a pretty tough life. I question why they had to learn this kind of lesson again through this experience," Morgan said.

He said both were artists. He remembers Carolyn hand-painting hundreds of intricate ornaments for Christmas trees that were auctioned for charity at the Festival of Trees and says she is good at about any type of art imaginable.

Morgan said Kirsten was "a very happy kid, a little shy. No one disliked her. She literally had hundreds of friends."

He added, "She was an artist. She also liked dancing."

Morgan also said, because of questions to the family, that the pair are distant relatives of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.

He added that the mourning family was visited Tuesday evening by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., "and we appreciate the concern that he showed."

Morgan said what has been painful to the family was a decision by the Deseret Morning News to run a photo the day after the shooting of a police officer with gun drawn next to the body of a dead shopper.

While the photo was of another victim, Morgan said the family had though it was Kirsten. "The clothes she wore that day were very similar. A lot of people thought it was her," he said.

He added, "You just can't imagine how hurtful it was. I think it was very poor judgment to run that photo. I have read the newspaper's explanation, but don't think much of it."

E-mail: lee@desnews.com