Aurora Victim Relief Fund determines how much movie theater shooting victims will receive

Fund has nearly $5 million

AURORA, Colo. - Officials have announced how the nearly $5 million in the Aurora Victim Relief Fund will be distributed.

The families of the 12 people killed in the shooting, as well as victims who suffered permanent brain damage or permanent physical paralysis, will receive 70 percent of the Aurora Victim Relief Fund's final balance, according to the special master for the fund, Kenneth Feinberg.

That's approximately $200,000 each.

Gordon Cowden lost his life inside the theater. Melisa Cowden said their children, "Would go live under a bridge if they could have their dad back." 

The remaining 30 percent of the final fund balance will be given to victims who suffered physical injuries. Officials said disbursement will be based on the number of days they stayed in a hospital.

There are three categories for payment:

  • Victims hospitalized for 20 days or more.
  • Victims hospitalized for between eight and 19 days.
  • Victims hospitalized between one and seven days.

Victims in each category will receive the same payment.

Due to the limited amount of money in the fund, officials said victims who did not require overnight hospitalization and claims for mental trauma will not be compensated.

Bryson Billapando escaped the theater without physical injury, but said he has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Billapando will not be compensated.  

"I know I wasn't the only one to walk out of there not injured and I know that they're struggling, too," Billapando said. "It really upsets me, because I know some people who donated to the fund and it was meant to go out to help everybody. Not just a fraction of people. I think at least everybody who was inside the theater should receive some type of help. Anything would help," he added.  

The exact amounts paid to all victims will be determined by the total number of claims approved in each category and by the final fund balance.

The current fund balance is $4,961,739. Monday was the last day donations could be made through Community First Foundation’s GivingFirst.org website.      

Victims and their families received claim instructions Monday, officials said. They have until Nov. 1 to submit claims, which will be processed by the Governor’s Office. If they choose to do so, victims and their families can request a private, one-on-one meeting with Feinberg to discuss their claims.

Feinberg will make final payment determinations and money will be disbursed as soon as possible after Nov. 15, officials said.

Feinberg said he developed the payment protocols after gathering input at two public meetings last week and reviewing feedback previously collected from three victim meetings and a victim survey conducted by the 7/20 Recovery Committee. A detailed explanation of the payment protocols and the claim forms can be found here.

Feinberg is a nationally-recognized expert in handling relief funds created after other various tragedies and disasters and is best known for serving as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. In that role he reached out to all who qualified to file a claim, evaluated applications, determined appropriate compensation and disseminated awards.

Feinberg is not receiving payment of any fees or expenses while assisting with the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.

"We are extremely grateful to Ken Feinberg for his service to victims and their families and to the state of Colorado," Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "He has proven once again why he is the nation's leading expert in handling these kinds of matters. Those most impacted by the theater shooting are best served by a speedy and fair distribution of the Aurora Victim Relief Fund and Ken is delivering as promised."

The fund has already distributed $450,000. Nine disbursements totaling $100,000 in grants went to nonprofits in Aurora who were helping the shooting victims. The Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance or COVA received $350,000 from Giving First. That group then wrote checks of $5,000 to each of the 70 shooting victims.

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