Aurora theater shooting: Victims' families say they have no voice about donations
|Eleven families represented at the press conference.|
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.
The families said that when they first became concerned that the donations were not going directly to the families, they offered Giving First a chance to explain how the victims' families would be more involved in the process. When their concerns were not properly addressed -- they even allege that, at one point, a Giving First leader suggested that they just start their own fund -- they decided to have a press conference last Friday, the 24th.
In response, Teves said, COVA's leadership asked that the group to delay the press conference to give them a chance to improve communication, and the families agreed. That Friday, the group of families received its first e-mail from COVA; it said that the organization had set up the 7/20 Recovery Committee but apparently made no mention of how victims might have a voice or input in the process as they said they had been promised.
At that point, the families decided to have the press conference after all, even though they're meeting with the organization on Friday. But they remain frustrated.
"Our loved ones have paid the ultimate price, but many others are still fighting for their lives and many of us will never be the same again. We are victims. We have knowledge that is unique and should be utilized," Teves said, adding that those who were actually in the theater and the families grieving need to be driving the decisions.
The conference was noteworthy in part because it was the first time all of these families had come together for a formal press conference. Some were meeting in person for the first time.
Responding to questions from reporters, family members went beyond concerns about the donations to talk about the difficult process of grieving.
"We just want to grieve. I'm sure all of us have spent nights and just days in bed," said Amanda Medek, sister of Micayla Medek, who died in the shooting. "How do you go to work after that?... If I get married, my little sister is not gonna be there to help me."
In describing the difficult process of moving on from the tragedy, she added, "It's so frustrating. 'How are you doing,' is the worst question in the entire world. 'How are you doing?' I'm doing terrible!"
Eirz Scott, the mother of Jarell Brooks, 19, who was shot in the leg, told reporters that ultimately donations are important during this difficult time.
Sam Levin Amanda Medek's grandmother comes on stage to comfort her.
"My son cannot work and we don't know when he's going to be able to return to work," she said, adding that the emotional trauma from the event has been tough on him and the family. "You can't leave people alone in a room for a long period of time.... We can't hardly be left alone. There's just some things going on with us psychologically, mentally, emotionally, that affected us to the point where we are not able to perform at a normal level.... Nobody is trying to get rich, we just want to be able to take care of our families."
Continue reading for a copy of the full statement from the press conference and more photos.