Michelle L. Price
Millions of dollars in donations have poured in for the victims of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival, leaving local officials and national experts to sort how to fairly and quickly distribute the money.
An online fundraiser launched hours after the Oct. 1 shooting has topped $10 million, and millions more have been collected by nonprofits, businesses and others.
Donation amounts have ranged from $5 and $10 anonymous contributions to a $3 million gift from the MGM Resorts International, the owner of the concert venue and the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, where the gunman perched from a 32nd floor suite and sprayed gunfire onto the crowd.
A new non-profit group, working with local officials and experts who have helped distribute funds after other tragedies, is finalizing a plan to determine who will get money and how.
Questions and answers about the donations:
WHO IS OVERSEEING THE DONATIONS?
The Las Vegas Victims' Fund is the non-profit created to oversee the money. It is overseen by a 16-person committee headed by Scott Nielson, president of a consulting firm and former executive at Station Casinos. Other members include representatives from local law enforcement, victim advocates and business leaders. The National Compassion Fund and Ken Feinberg, who helped administer claims after the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and other mass shootings and tragedies, are helping. The committee on Thursday released a draft plan for distributing funds and plans to take public comments on the proposal until Dec. 8.
WHAT'S BEEN RAISED?
About $15 million has been raised so far, with donations still flowing in. A GoFundMe page started by Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joseph Lombardo has collected about $11.5 million. Several more million dollars have been collected by the Direct Impact Fund, a non-profit affiliated with GoFundMe, and the National Compassion Fund, which was created by victims and families of mass casualty events like 9-11 and the Columbine school shootings. Nielson said the committee's goal is to combine that with money raised by private business and other groups.
WHO WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR DONATIONS?
Under the draft plan, donations would be distributed to relatives of the 58 people killed and to the hundreds hospitalized with injuries. The most money would go to relatives of those killed or victims whose injuries left them with permanent brain damage or paralysis, requiring constant home care. Under the current proposal, the rest of the injured would be eligible to receive money if they were admitted to a hospital within two days of the shooting and stayed at least one night. Those hospitalized longer would get more money.
HOW DO VICTIMS GET MONEY?
Victims or their relatives must submit claims by Jan. 31, 2018. Fund officials would verify information about injuries and deaths with hospitals, the FBI and others. Fund officials would start deciding how much recipients would get in March and begin distributing money on March 5.
HOW CAN VICTIMS USE THE MONEY?
Victims would receive lump sums to use however they want, Feinberg and Nielson said. "You're not trying to pay for somebody's medical expenses or for their economic loss," Neilson said. "This is just basically dividing up a gift that's been made."
WILL IT BE ENOUGH?
"It won't be enough," Sisolak said Tuesday. "We've got a huge number of victims, more than any other of these incidents. You're never going to possibly come up with the funds that could compare." The victims' fund in Boston gave away about $80 million, with the families of the three people killed each receiving more than $2 million. More than 260 others who were injured received amounts between $12,500 to $3.3 million. In Orlando, about $32 million was raised. Each of the estates of the 49 who were killed received about $350,000, while more than 60 injured received amounts ranging from $35,000 to 300,000. About 180 others who were in the nightclub but uninjured in the shooting received about $25,000 each.
WHAT OTHER HELP ARE VICTIMS GETTING?
Some victims and their families have started their own fundraising campaigns to help cover medical costs and other bills. Victims can also seek help from Nevada's state-run Victims of Crime Program, where they can be reimbursed for medical bills, funeral expenses and counselling. California, where a number of the victims were from, is also providing help through its crime victims' fund. Additionally, a number of local businesses have offered help, including at least one hospital chain that is not charging patients for the medical costs they incurred. Mental health clinics and dental and plastic surgery practices have also announced free services for those who suffered injuries in the attack.
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