Mass shooting victims' families helping Fort Hood

Associated Press Published:

DALLAS -- Dozens of families who lost loved ones during Sept. 11, the mass shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school and other attacks are trying to support victims of similar tragedies with a new fund whose first efforts will focus on last week's shootings at Fort Hood.

The Na tional Center for Victims of Crime told The Associated Press on Tuesday that about 70 families are supporting the fund, which will provide no-strings-attached cash payments. The idea came from the mother of a man killed in the 2012 movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo.

Victims' family members say the fund was created out of frustration with how donations are allocated after tragedies. Among the supporters is Eric Mace, whose daughter Ryanne was a sophomore at Northern Illinois University when she was among five people killed during a mass shooting at the school in 2008.

"When you have an incident like what happened at NIU, Sandy Hook or now Fort Hood twice, people are inspired to reach out but you can't get anywhere near the victims. You have this major outpouring of sympathy which ends up turning into somewhat of a business," Mace said.

Anita Busch, who lost a cousin in the Colorado movie theater shootings, said the money will go to "mothers and fathers who can't get out of bed in the morning to go to work, and people who are riddled with bullets and need that help to get back on their feet."

The fund went live in February, and it will first be tapped to help Fort Hood. Spc. Ivan Lopez fatally shot three soldiers and wounded 16 others before killing himself at the Texas military base on April 2, nearly five years after another soldier killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the sprawling Army post.

Administration costs were largely covered by the families involved and corporate sponsors, but only about $1,000 has been raised since the fund turned its sights Monday to Fort Hood, according to National Center for Victims of Crime spokeswoman Kath Cummins. But she said the hope is that an extensive social media campaign, coupled with Fort Hood tapping military resources, will encourage people to give.

An official announcement from the center and Fort Hood was expected late Tuesday.

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