Hickenlooper: not enough money for theater shooting victims

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DENVER – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed sympathy for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting and their families, in his first public comments since a group of family members held a press conference last week expressing their anger over how the money donated to a fund for victims is being distributed.

Hickenlooper put a private group, Community First, in charge of doling out the $5.2 million in donations. Thus far, the foundation has given $5,000 to the families of the 12 people killed and to the 58 victims.

But it hasn’t been enough.

“There have been two tragedies in Aurora,” Tom Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed, said at the press conference last week. “The first was the theater shooting, where I lost my son. The second is how the victims have been treated by the powers that be.”

On Monday, Hickenlooper, who was on a Chamber of Commerce trip to Austin, Tex. last week, made his first comments on the matter in an interview with FOX31 Denver.

“We’ve tried to be responsive and to make sure the families know they do have a say in this,” Hickenlooper said. “But it’s a really difficult thing.

“We’re trying to allocate way too little money to way too many victims — we’ve only raised five million bucks. We should have four times that. We’ve got victims, they’re going to have a hard time ever working again. How much do they receive compared to someone who’s lost a child?”

Hickenlooper also said that he understands that many of these families are upset, and that no amount of financial compensation will ever offset their losses.

“Many of these families are going through the hardest time of their lives,” Hickenlooper told FOX31 Denver. “It makes it hard for them to process the information and what’s going on.

“That’s what’s sad about how frustrating it’s been for the victims and for everyone is that there’s no self-interest, everyone’s trying to do the right thing. It’s just a very hard situation.”

Hickenlooper said he’s open to the idea of bringing in an outside arbitrator, but that that too would cost money.

“That could cost $100,000 or $500,000, hiring an arbitrator, because that person’s going to have to be protected, in case they get sued by a family down the road,” Hickenlooper said. “Everything is on the table, but there just aren’t any easy answers.”