Theater victims’ families say they’re not getting money

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AURORA, Colo. --  Family members are of some of the people killed and injured in the Aurora theater shootings say they are not getting the donations that were raised to help them.

In a news conference Tuesday morning, Tom Teves, father of Alex Teves who was killed in the massacre, said the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance or COVA is refusing to give the victims' families money for basic necessities.

He also said COVA and the 7/20 Recovery Committee, which is in charge of distributing the more than $5 million raised on the victims' behalf, won’t allow any of the victims to have a say in how the money is spent. "The victims have no voice at all," Teves said.

Chantel Blunk, whose husband Jonathon Blunk was killed, said COVA woudn’t give her money for plane tickets to attend suspect James Holmes’ hearing, “They said there were no funds left,” she said.

Deidra Brooks claims she can’t get money for basic necessities for her stepson who was shot in the leg, “You don't understand for someone to ask you as if you are going to apply for welfare what do you need that money for, when our lives weren't supposed to change on July 20th."

Melissa Cowden’s husband, Gordon, was killed in front of two of her four children, “Since the day my kids lost their dad, I've been fighting against the idea that this is about the money. It's not about the money. I have four kids that will go through the rest of their life without a dad."

But Rich Audsley with the 7/20 Recovery Committee told us they are trying to distribute the funds as fast as possible, but he said verifying victims and determining the best way to do it is a process that takes time. “We don't want to sit on this money, we want to get it out but we want to make sure we are doing it right."

Governor John Hickenlooper issued this statement in response to the news 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.”