USA First Look

Feds give nearly $8.5 million to assist Pulse nightclub victims

Victims and first responders at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year are set to get some assistance, in the form of an $8.5 million grant from the federal government.

Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016.
Carlo Allegri/Reuters/File
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The federal government will spend nearly $8.5 million to cover emotional and financial aid to the victims and first responders impacted by the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. 

The shooting, which occurred last June at a gay nightclub called Pulse, left 49 people dead. Gunman Omar Mateen pledged his allegiance to the radical terrorist group the Islamic State before opening fire and carrying out the deadliest shooting in recent US history.

The Justice Department announced Monday it will give the funds to the State of Florida to fund grief counseling for survivors and the family members of victims. The money also serves to reimburse the state for costs associated with operating an assistance center set up following the shooting, the department’s Office for Victims of Crime said.

“This award will reimburse victim services costs for operation of the Family Assistance Center in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and ensure that victims, witnesses and first responders receive necessary services to help them adjust in the aftermath of violence, begin the healing process and cope with probable re-traumatization,” Marilyn McCoy Roberts, the office's acting director, said in a statement.

Mr. Mateen was killed after a three-hour standoff with police following the incident. In addition to the 49 people shot dead, dozens of survivors sustained injuries.

The state is slated to receive the money from the Justice Department on Wednesday. 

Federal grants such as this are common in the wake of mass tragedies that can leave local officials grappling with the fallout for months. The government doled out funds following the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, in which two shooters opened fire on a California-run facility that caters to adults with disabilities, killing 14 people.

It did the same in the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting, in which white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed nine black parishioners who had gathered for Bible study.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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