Colo. theater victim families question fundraising

By: Andie Adams and Dan Elliot (AP) Email
By: Andie Adams and Dan Elliot (AP) Email

Families of those killed in the Colorado theater shooting are upset with the way the millions of dollars raised since the tragedy are being distributed.

In a news conference Tuesday in Aurora, Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed, spoke on behalf of 11 of the 12 families who lost a loved one on July 20, when a gunman opened fire in the Aurora movie theater.

Teves criticized fundraisers Giving First and Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance for cutting out victims of the money’s disbursement process, even though it was raised using the pictures and names of "our murdered loved ones."

So far, just over $5 million has been raised with $5,000 each going to the families of 70 victims to meet their immediate financial needs. However, $100,000 has gone to 10 nonprofit groups. No other money has been distributed yet.

Teves said in the families’ opinion, the term “victim” should include anyone inside the theatre or apartment complex who was physically or emotionally harmed, as well as the families of those involved.

“We are the victims. We have knowledge that is unique and should be utilized. The 720 Recovery Committee [in charge of the money disbursement] doesn’t have one victim on its board,” said Teves.

Kim Stuart, a spokeswoman for the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, says the group is preparing to give out the money soon.

They still need to identify who will lead in efforts to distribute the money.

According to Teves, the families understand that there needs to be rules and regulations when distributing money, but they don't want the infrastructure to tell them what they need to heal.

---UPDATE at 3 p.m.---

The governor's office defends itself after the families of the theater shooting victims accuse Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper of doing nothing to stand up for the victims.

Eric Brown, the director of communications for Hickenlooper's office, defended the governor in a statement:

“Everyone involved is trying to do the right thing in a very difficult situation. We understand the frustration shared today by victims’ families. That’s why we have been advocating for them to have a greater voice in the process. We have also actively supported the 7/20 Recovery Committee to improve communication and the ongoing distribution of assistance. Families have received money and other services through the great generosity of others. They will receive more. A meeting is scheduled for Friday between families and the 7/20 Recovery Committee. We will continue to listen and do all we can to help ensure families get the support they need.”

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