Colo. theater victim families question fundraising

Associated Press
James Holmes sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Denver
.

View gallery

James Holmes sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Denver, Colorado on February 11, 2015, in this courtroom sketch. Lawyers in the murder trial of Colorado theater gunman Holmes are set to begin individual questioning of prospective jurors in the death-penalty case on Wednesday, a process scheduled to take four months to complete. REUTERS/Bill Robles (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Anguished family members of some of the Colorado theater shooting victims lashed out at a fundraising campaign Tuesday, saying it collected more than $5 million "using pictures and names of our murdered loved ones" but so far has given no more than $5,000 each to families facing bills for medical treatment, travel and other expenses from the attack.

The families also said they've been shut out of decisions on how the money should be spent and that fundraisers were unresponsive to their questions and suggestions.

"When you generate donations for a fund called 'the Aurora Victim Relief Fund' using pictures and names of our murdered loved ones, it would stand to reason the fund is for victims of the Aurora shooting," said Tom Teves, whose son Alex was one of 12 people killed in the July 20 shootings. Another 58 people were wounded, and many of them face long recoveries or permanent disability.

At a sometimes-emotional news conference, Teves read a seven-page statement demanding the fundraisers give the victims and their families a say in how the money is used and questioning why so far only a relatively small portion, $350,000, was being distributed to the victims.

Teves said the statement was on behalf of 11 families. Eighteen other people crowded onto a small platform behind him, some dabbing their eyes with tissues, clasping hands or leaning on each other.

The Community First Foundation, asked by Gov. John Hickenlooper to operate the relief fund, said on its website it has raised just over $5 million for the Aurora Victim Relief Fund. The foundation announced on Aug. 17 that it would give $350,000 to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance to distribute among the surviving victims and the families of those who died. Earlier, it said another $100,000 was given to 10 nonprofit groups.

Marla J. Williams, president the Community First Foundation, said a gag order imposed by Arapahoe County District Judge William Blair Sylvester made it difficult to find all the victims and their families.

She said a group has been set up to recommend how to spend the donations but no victims' representatives have been chosen yet.

"I don't know who represents the victims. There are a number of people who were involved," she said, adding that the group at Tuesday's news conference did not represent all the victims.

Williams said she worries that Tuesday's statement will give donors second thoughts.

"I'm sad because I think there are people who have been very generous and contributors who might think their money has not been used wisely," she said.

The 37-year-old Community First Foundation supports community programs in the metropolitan Denver area.

Nancy Lewis, executive director of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, said the victims and the agencies involved want the same thing: "They want healing for all the crime victims."

She said Sylvester's gag order prevented her from commenting further.

Sylvester issued an order on Aug. 16 barring the organization from releasing names and contact information for the victims. The order does not appear to place any other restrictions on the group.

Teves said the families were humbled by the amount of the donations, and grateful. He said none were speaking out just to get money.

"We have nothing to gain as the families of the murder victims," he said. "We have already lost everything."

He said anyone who was in the theater at the time of the shooting or lived in the same building as the suspect — who police said had booby-trapped his apartment — should be eligible to receive help.

Teves insisted the families' purpose wasn't to attack the fundraising groups or the government.

"All we're saying is, 'Listen to us. We have unique knowledge and unique skillsets that we can bring to bear to make this better for all the victims. Why are we shunned to the outside?' That's what this is about."

A meeting is scheduled Friday between victims' families and officials of the fundraising campaign.

Teves challenged Hickenlooper, who attended the slain victims' funerals, to step in and help the families get a say.

"You pledged 12 times that 'We will remember,'" Teves said. "Are you a man who is true to his words, or were they just words?"

Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, said the governor understands the families' frustration and is advocating for them to have more say. He said Hickenlooper also wants the fundraisers to improve their communication with the families.

Brown praised the generosity of donors and said the victims would get more money.

"Everyone involved is trying to do the right thing in a very difficult situation," he said.

The suspect in the shootings, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. He has not entered a plea. The next hearing in the case is Thursday.

___

Associated Press writers Steven K. Paulson and P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.

___

Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • The Latest: Watchdog group says it will sue President Trump

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

      Associated Press
    • 12 bodies found in Mexican tourist town: officials

      A dozen bodies -- including seven that were headless and mutilated -- were discovered over the weekend in western Mexico's seaside resort of Manzanillo, apparent victims of the country's epidemic of drug violence, local officials said. It was a shocking turn of events for an area popular with American and other foreign tourists, which until now had largely been spared from the bloody drug wars wracking other parts of Mexico. Seven bodies were found early Saturday in an abandoned taxi on the road from Manzanillo to the town of Cihuatlan.

      AFP
    • Royals' Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

      Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic. It was a chance ...

      Associated Press
    • 2 suspects in custody in deadly San Antonio mall shooting

      Two suspects were taken into custody after a robbery inside a shopping mall ended in a shooting that left one man dead and several other people injured, San Antonio police said. Police Chief William McManus ...

      Associated Press
    • US Gas Prices Drop a Cent Over 2 Weeks to $2.36 a Gallon

      The average price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline fell just over 1 cent nationally during the past two weeks, to $2.36

      ABC News q
    • Crumbling lira pressures Turkish retailers as economy slows

      By Ceyda Caglayan ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish businessman Tekin Acar had contracts to open branches of his leading cosmetics chain in ten new shopping malls this year. A few days ago he canceled nine of them after sharp falls in the lira meant he would struggle to afford the rents. Turkey's currency has lost around a quarter of its value since the middle of last year, causing havoc for retailers selling imported goods or paying rent pegged to the U.S. dollar.

      Reuters
    • Syria peace talks off to rocky start

      Syrian rebels began peace talks with the war-torn country's government Monday in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, but refused to negotiate face-to-face in the first session. The talks had been billed as the first time armed rebel groups were due to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad's regime since the conflict erupted in 2011.

      AFP 16 min ago
    • Discarded protest signs from the Women’s March in NYC (28 photos)

      Following the march in New York City, protesters left behind thousands of signs around Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Many signs left near a construction site were taken home by admirers as souvenirs. One group of placards was made into an art installation on East 57th Street, while many of these great signs were discarded near receptacles along Fifth Avenue waiting for sanitation. (Yahoo News) Photography by Gordon Donovan /Yahoo News _____ Related slideshows: Slideshow: Signs of the Women's March around the world >>> Slideshow: Women's March on Washington, D.C. >>> Slideshow: Women’s March around the world >>> Slideshow: How newspapers covered President's Trump inauguration >>> Slideshow: Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S. >>> Slideshow: Protests worldwide against the inauguration of Donald Trump >>> Slideshow: Obama's Washington >>> Slideshow: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day >>> Slideshow: 66 hands on 66 Bibles >>> See more news-related photo galleries , and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • China to prosecute former Tianjin mayor for suspected graft

      China will prosecute the former mayor of the northern city of Tianjin for suspected graft, the state prosecutor said on Sunday, taking a step that will almost certainly result in his conviction. Dozens of senior people have been investigated or jailed since President Xi Jinping assumed power four years ago, vowing to root out corruption, warning, like others before, that the problem threatens the Communist Party's grip on power. The party announced in September the investigation into Huang Xingguo, who had been mayor of the important port city - about an hour from Beijing - since 2008.

      Reuters
    • Twitter roasts Trump aide for calling lies 'alternative facts'

      In the world of fake news, now we also have "alternative facts."  On Saturday, President Donald Trump's first full day in office, his press secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he falsely claimed that the previous day's crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." SEE ALSO: Inauguration crowds are looking puny compared to Women's March crowds Spicer's false remarks instantly became a new meme and sent the internet into a fury. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press , where Chuck Todd grilled the Trump administration for spreading falsehoods on their first full day in office. In response, Conway called the falsehoods "alternative facts." "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r — Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017 Yes. Alternative facts. No, you aren't living in an alternative reality, this is real life.  The hashtag #AlternativeFacts quickly started trending on Twitter Sunday morning. Do you want your pilot using #alternativefacts about speed or altitude? — Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) January 22, 2017 President Trump was honored to have Prince and David Bowie perform at his inauguration. Springsteen cried. So jealous. #alternativefacts — Sean Spiceboy Spicer (@DatSpiceBoy) January 22, 2017 I'm using #alternativefacts on my bank loan application tomorrow.    — Robert Graves (@RggnycRobert) January 22, 2017 Wow #alternativefacts. This is so frightening. This is the scariest part of Trumps Presidency. When facts don't matter anymore we all lose. — Tracy Hardaway (@TracyMHardaway) January 22, 2017 I just saw Conway speak about #AlternativeFacts and I'm so completely disgustedNo, the worlds has facts. You don't get to create the truth — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 22, 2017 There is no racism. #AlternativeFacts — Judith Browne Dianis (@jbrownedianis) January 22, 2017 So now there is #alternativefacts....Oh.....ok. pic.twitter.com/oVxmLw0hQk — Benjamin Di'Costa (@BenjaminDiCosta) January 22, 2017 I have a mandate from the people. I care about you. I have divested from my businesses.I have the biggest crowds.#alternativefacts — Unpresidented (@UnpresidentedAF) January 22, 2017 In addition to Spicer complaining about the media's coverage of crowd size, Trump also complained during a briefing at the CIA headquarters on Saturday. "We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed," said Trump. "I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, they show an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there." There is no official estimate of the crowd size on inauguration day, but there are some simple facts to prove it wasn't "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration." According to the Washington Post , the D.C. Metro's ridership was "lower than that of an average weekday." About 570,557 people rode the Metro on Friday vs 1.1 million who rode it in 2009 during Obama's inauguration. According to Nielson, 31 million viewers watched the inauguration on TV, which is lower than both Obama and Ronald Reagan's first inaugurations. Spicer also claimed that magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration and prevented "hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in years past." A Secret Service spokesperson told CNN that magnetometers were not used during the inauguration. A USSS spokesperson tells us no magnetometers were used on the National Mall for Trump's inauguration. — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 22, 2017 The floor coverings Spicer mentioned, that was also a lie. Or, ya know, alternative facts.  BONUS: Obama 'Hope' artist has a new set of powerful posters

      Mashable
    • Who is departing Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh?

      JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Who is defeated Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh, and how did he spark a political crisis?

      Associated Press
    • 1 dead, multiple injured San Antonio shopping mall shooting

      SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A robbery inside a San Antonio shopping mall ended with shots fired on Sunday, leaving one person who tried to intervene dead, three others shot and another two people taken to hospital with non-shooting injuries, police and fire officials said.

      Associated Press
    • Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him.

      Associated Press
    • Gavin Rossdale Opens Up About Divorce From Gwen Stefani

      Gavin Rossdale opens up about relationship with ex-wife Gwen Stefani

      People
    • Syria rebels arrive in Astana for talks with regime

      Members of the Syrian opposition delegation arrived Sunday in the Kazakh capital Astana for face-to-face peace talks with the war-torn nation's government. The talks, set to begin on Monday, will be the first time a delegation composed exclusively of rebel groups will negotiate with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush flew into Astana on Sunday morning, according to an AFP correspondent who saw the delegation arrive.

      AFP
    • Death toll at Italian hotel hit by avalanche rises to six, 23 still missing

      Italian rescue workers have found the dead body of a man in the wreckage of the hotel in central Italy that was buried in an avalanche last week, the Italian fire service said on Sunday, with 23 people were still missing as the search operation continues. "At Hotel Rigopiano, at 1645 CET, the fire brigade located the dead body of one of the missing people," the fire service said in a Tweet. The death toll stands at six, with 23 people still missing, Paolo Molinari from the Civil Protection agency said.

      Reuters
    • The skin cure fad threatening Myanmar's elephants

      "Elephant's skin can cure skin diseases like eczema," one shop owner, who requested anonymity, told AFP next to a counter brimming with porcupine quills and snake skins. Another young man touting his wares nearby promised a paste made from ground up elephant teeth would "cure pimples and remove black spots".

      AFP
    • Ethics lawyers to sue Trump over foreign payments

      A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit, brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will allege that the Constitution's emoluments clause forbids payments to Trump's businesses. It will seek a court order forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers working on the case.

      Reuters
    • Inauguration crowds are looking puny compared to Women's March crowds

      Sorry, Trump, but these Women's March crowds are YUGE. Ladies from around the world got in formation to take part in the Women's March on Washington following Trump's inauguration, and the crowds are downright bigly. With attendance projections for the D.C. March now at over 500,000, many can't help but compare today's attendance to Friday's underwhelming inauguration numbers. SEE ALSO: Who pulled the bigger crowd: Trump or Obama? While hundreds of thousands did show up to watch Trump be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, visible empty bleachers and photos of Obama's packed 2009 inauguration ceremony,which had an estimated turnout of around 1.8 million, proved Trump's gathering was far from record setting. The March reportedly led to 1,000 more busses being booked than on Trump's big day, and photographs and video from today's events show D.C. bombarded with an overwhelming number of attendees. Though official inauguration numbers are unknown, the gorgeous sea of pink Pussyhats assembling at today's March certainly appeared to trump the president's crowds. If you want to see how massive the Women's March is, I'm standing at the back edge of the crowd, and I've marked the speaker's stage. pic.twitter.com/L47WgP2OuP — Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch in #DC view from the roof of VOA towards #USCapitol pic.twitter.com/JBY4MAhep3 — Niki Papadogiannakis (@nikipapadog) January 21, 2017 @JoyAnnReid @puffin98 Let's compare crowd size of Trump Inauguration v D.C. Women's March...樂 Mr Trump...you can't comb over racism! pic.twitter.com/Lz9Tn8PpZp — Sissy Victor (@sissyvictor40) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch Today vs. #Inauguration Yesterday pic.twitter.com/jFowSajc4Q — Austin Hunt (@AustinHunt) January 21, 2017 Photos of the Shady Grove Metro station currently. Hearing it's an hour wait to get on the train. O____o #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/YOaaQ41v1s — Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 21, 2017 What the same DC Metro station looked like on Inauguration Day vs. what it looks like today pic.twitter.com/gi8GBoqni5 — Freddie Campion (@FreddieCampion) January 21, 2017 On my way to cover #WomensMarch in DC and have not seen this station this busy even at peak rush hour before. Pink everywhere. pic.twitter.com/kYhxy66ttj — Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) January 21, 2017 #WomensMarch We're not even in DC yet, and this metro station has a better crowd than the inauguration. pic.twitter.com/iXeJFqwtIJ — Emily Hecht (@emiblake) January 21, 2017 The fact that there are more people at the #WomensMarch than the #Inauguration gives me hope that we're all going to be alright. pic.twitter.com/GgNeEii2yB — David Thompson (@DavidMDT) January 21, 2017 Thanks to the National Mall Cam, a live video feed of the U.S. Capitol building, you can check out the huge crowds for yourself in real time. Inauguration Photo of Donald Trump's inauguration crowds on Jan. 20, 2017. Image: screengrab/earthcam Women's March Photo of Women's March on Washington crowds at 12:00 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2017. Image: screengrab/earthcam Uh oh, Trump. Looks like the women of the world are giving you some serious competition. BONUS: Trump's 2017 vs Obama's 2009: A brutal inaugural concert comparison

      Mashable