Aurora theater shooting: Recovery committee responds to criticism from victim families
Update: Rich Audsley, speaking for the 7/20 Recovery Committee, has released a statement responding to criticism from families of Aurora theater shooting victims. It's included after our original coverage.
Tom Teves, the father of Aurora theater shooting victim Alex Teves, lambasted the way Giving First, a program of the Community First Foundation that helped solicit more than $5 million for the attack's victims, has handled the disbursement of the funds.
He said victims' families have been misled, ignored and pitted against each other, and he called on politicians "to finally put an end to this madness, adding, "There have been two tragedies in Aurora. The first was the theater shooting.... The second is how victims have been treated."
The press conference was the second called by victims' families to express disappointment with how the donations are being spent; the first took place on August 28. While that event stretched on for hours and was attended by family members representing eleven of the twelve victims who died, today's was much shorter. Teves read an eight-minute prepared statement and then walked out of the room. The seven family members who stood behind him on a riser each took to the microphone and repeated the last sentence of Teves's statement -- "We will remember" -- and then followed him out to the parking lot.
According to Jessica Watts, the cousin of victim Jonathan Blunk, attendees included family members of victims Micayla Medek, Veronia Moser-Sullivan and A.J. Boik.
Teves said the families met on September 8 with the 7/20 Recovery Committee, a group of representatives from nonprofits, government and local schools charged with making recommendations for how to disburse the funds. At that meeting, he said, "we received some very surprising and disturbing information," including that the committee has no real authority over how the donations should be spent and that Giving First has "final say."
Melanie Asmar Tom Teves addresses the media while victims' family members stand behind him.
"That's not what we were told by the committee in our first meeting," Teves said. "We were told that the victims would have the final say in the disbursement of the funds."
Continue reading for more from Teves, as well as Audley's statement.