Theater Shooting Families Angry About Donations

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1min 47sec

Donations intended for victims of the Aurora theater shooting and their families aren’t getting distributed quickly enough. That’s according to a group of victims who spoke out Tuesday. Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reports they want more of a role in managing that money.

The following is a transcript of Megan Verlee's report:

Reporter Megan Verlee: Deidre Brooks has spent the last five weeks caring for her 18-year-old son, Jarell, who was shot in the attack. That’s meant a lot of missed work and mounting bills. She expected the victims' fund to help with some of that, but she's been disappointed.

Deidre Brooks: We work hard and have degrees so we never have to ask for a handout. So to be treated like we need to ask permission for something that was supposed to be given to take care of the needs of victims is not fair.

Reporter: Brooks is among the family members and victims publically criticizing the handling of $5 million donated by individuals and businesses. The nonprofit Community First Foundation is holding onto the money; a committee of public and non-profit officials is in charge of distributing it. So far it’s handed out about a tenth of the fund, some to organizations working with victims, and some in the form of $5,000 checks, directly to victims and their families. But Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the attack, says victims themselves should decide what happens with the money.

Tom Teves: Our families will continue to fight to deliver 100% of the monies collected for the victims to the victims at the victims’ directions, creating a process that shows an audit trail and complete transparency.

Reporter: Community First Foundation President Marla Williams says distributing the money hasn’t been easy. A gag order in the case meant it took weeks even to get a full list of victims. And the sheer number of people affected makes the task even harder.

Marla Williams: Trying to take resources that are limited to address a need that is almost infinite really requires some thought and some judgment and, and it’s a huge job.

Reporter: But Williams says a committee overseeing the fund is looking at ways to get victims and their families more involved in the process. Both sides plan to meet Friday to discuss the issue.

[Photo: CPR/MVerlee]