AURORA — Family members of some of those killed or wounded in the mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater want Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other lawmakers to use their influence and move a $5 million victims' fund out of the hands of a private group.
They made the plea to have the money overseen by an independent arbitrator at a news conference Thursday that was markedly less emotional than one last month in which they demanded a say in how the $5 million is spent.
Tom Teves, of Phoenix, whose son, Alex, was among 12 people killed in the July 20 shooting, said the families have learned that the Giving First will be able to keep interest earned on money in the fund and plans to spend some money on mental health care for victims. But the families want the money given directly to them and have local, state and federal dollars pay for all medical bills, including mental health treatment, he said.
Teves said the families are working behind the scenes to help one another, such as reaching out to Habitat for Humanity to build a handicapped-accessible house for Ashley Moser. Her family has said she would be paralyzed as a result of her wounds. She also lost her 6-year-old daughter in the shooting and also miscarried.
"There have been two tragedies in Aurora. The first was the theater shooting. The second is how the victims have been treated by the powers that be," he said.
The 7/20 Recovery Committee, which makes recommendations on how the money is spent, issued a statement ahead of the press conference saying that it's committed to honoring the input of all victims, not just the voices of a few.
"In fact, we have been and continue to actively seek input from all the victims injured and who lost family in this tragic event," committee adviser Rich Audsely said.
Fewer people stood with Teves than at the previous press conference, but he didn't know many families were represented.