Knife-wielding suspect in SSL shooting suffered from PTSD, family says

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 19:45:24-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah -- A man shot by a South Salt Lake resident last week suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a family member confirmed.

David Trujillo, 68, was found dead in the backyard of a home in the area of 3700 South and 200 East on March 12, according to South Salt Lake police. At about 8:30 p.m., officers were called to the home where the homeowner said he shot Trujillo because he was wielding a knife.

While the 68-year-old man has a criminal history of burglary, theft and trespassing – Trujillo’s niece, Kristin Martinez, thinks his behavior was a result of his PTSD.

She said Trujillo suffered from the mental illness because of his service in the Vietnam War.

“I hope he knows that we loved him,” Martinez said. “It's so heartbreaking what happened.”

Martinez said she hopes others will take this as a lesson to get loved ones with PTSD help.

She added Trujillo was a former resident in the South Salt Lake neighborhood he was killed in. During his time there, he owned a cat.

For some unknown reason, Martinez said, her uncle went back to the area searching for the feline then she thinks something must have triggered his PTSD.

Martinez believes if Trujillo had gotten the help he needed the shooting might never have happened.

“He was in that state of mind you know that wasn't him. The PTSD took over,” Martinez speculated.

Clinical psychologist with Summit Community Counseling Dr. Kristina Talbert said Martinez is right.

“I think getting help early on can be really beneficial,” Talbert said.

Talbert said aggression is common in veterans suffering from PTSD.

“That aggression can be just hitting someone -- throwing objects at them I think it's just the anger boils over and there is nowhere for it to go,” Talbert said.

No arrests have been made in the shooting. The incident is currently under investigation.