Skip to main content

Colorado shooting victims' families criticize relief charity

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 8:55 PM EDT, Tue August 28, 2012
Cynthia Davis, center, visits the roadside memorial set up for victims of the Colorado shooting massacre across the street from the Century 16 movie theater on Monday, July 30, in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed in the theater early July 20 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Suspect James Holmes was taken into custody shortly after the attack. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/us/gallery/colorado-theater-shooting/index.html' target='_blank'>More photos: Colorado movie theater shooting</a> Cynthia Davis, center, visits the roadside memorial set up for victims of the Colorado shooting massacre across the street from the Century 16 movie theater on Monday, July 30, in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed in the theater early July 20 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." Suspect James Holmes was taken into custody shortly after the attack. More photos: Colorado movie theater shooting
HIDE CAPTION
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
Colorado massacre: Mourning the victims
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Victim's relatives demand "a robust voice" on committee directing relief funds
  • Charity official says they've had a "conversation" about adding family reps to the committee
  • $5,000 went to 70 victims' families last week
  • At least $5 million has been donated to the Aurora Victims Relief Fund

(CNN) -- Relatives of some those who died in the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting last month accuse the charity raising money for their benefit of ignoring their demands to help decide how to spend it.

"We need people who were in the theater, together with those who have lost loved ones, driving these decisions," said Tom Teves, father of shooting victim Alex Teves.

A spokesman for the Colorado governor promised the families' concerns would be addressed soon.

At least $5 million has been donated to the Aurora Victims Relief Fund since it was established with the approval of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to help families of the 12 killed and 58 wounded. The governor chose the Community First Foundation to oversee the relief fund.

Alex Teves looks out on a beach in Hawaii a few years ago. He was one of the 12 people killed in the July 20 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. "I took this photo without Alex's knowledge on a secluded beach on Maui," says his mother, Caren Teves. "I love how he seems reflective, and I will always view this photo as him looking over us." <br/><br/> Alex Teves looks out on a beach in Hawaii a few years ago. He was one of the 12 people killed in the July 20 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. "I took this photo without Alex's knowledge on a secluded beach on Maui," says his mother, Caren Teves. "I love how he seems reflective, and I will always view this photo as him looking over us."

Victim Alex Teves leaves legacy
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Photos: Victim Alex Teves leaves legacy Photos: Victim Alex Teves leaves legacy

Prosecutors: Theater shooting suspect told classmate he wanted to kill people

Families say fight isn't over money
Victim's mom: I want to see him in court
Holmes sought help before shooting

Teves led a group he said represented 11 of the 12 people who died in the July 20 mass shooting in a news conference in Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"We're certain that everyone who donated their hard-earned wages intended for 100% of the donations to go directly to the victims and then each family affected would use those funds for what they most needed to help their healing process," Teves told reporters. "Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case."

The only disbursements have been to 10 local nonprofit groups, including the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, also known as COVA, he said.

"When you generate funds for a relief fund called the Aurora Victims Relief Fund, using pictures and names of our murdered loved ones without our permission, it would stand to reason that the fund is for the victims of the Aurora shooting," he said.

COVA sent checks for $5,000 to each of the 70 victims' families last week, but Chantel Blunk, whose husband Jonathan Blunk was among the dead, said the money is not enough to help her deal with the trauma to her son and daughter, ages 2 and 4.

When she asked COVA to buy a plane ticket for her daughter Haley to travel from Reno, Nevada, to Denver, "They told me 'No,'" Blunk said. "They're like 'There's no more funding and we can't help you."

Judge orders key records sealed, other released

Haley has been suffering nightmares and the trip to where her father died might help her find "closure," Blunk said. "Begging COVA, they just told me 'No,'" she said. "She didn't say sorry or anything."

COVA did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

The families demand "a robust voice" on the committee that decides where the money goes, Teves said.

Cheryl Haggstrom, Community First Foundation executive vice president, said there has been "conversation" about adding family representatives to the committee.

Teves called on the governor to intervene, suggesting he has ignored their pleas for help.

"You came and grieved with our families," Teves said. "We allowed you into our inner-most circle at the worst time in our lives, we didn't do this lightly. You pledged 12 times 'We will remember.' Are you a man who is true to his words or are they just words?"

Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, told CNN Tuesday afternoon that his office is working to "improve communication and the ongoing distribution of assistance."

"Everyone involved is trying to do the right thing in a very difficult situation," Brown said. "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.

Family representatives will meet with the relief funds committee on Friday, Brown said.

"Families have received money and other services through the great generosity of others, " Brown said. "They will receive more."

When Hickenlooper's office announced the fund last month, he promised the money would "help those impacted by this tragedy begin to recover and rebuild their lives."

Initial donors included Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, co-producers of "The Dark Knight Rises," which was playing in the movie theater when the shooting began.

Sources at Warner Bros. studios, a subsidiary of CNN's parent company Time Warner, told CNN that the company made a "substantial" donation.

Warner Bros., a subsidiary of CNN's parent company Time Warner, would not divulge how much money it was giving out of what the sources said was respect for the victims.

The Community First Foundation website said that contributions would go toward meeting the needs of the shooting victims and their families, "and, as funds are available, the broad needs of those affected in the community."

Holmes shackled in court

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Meet the victims involved in the Colorado theater massacre through shared photos and read the memories kept alive by their loved ones.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Colorado shooting suspect has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Fri March 22, 2013
Back in the 1950s, Hollywood fell in love with the idea of truth serum. But it doesn't work the way the movies have made it seem.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.
updated 7:18 AM EST, Tue January 8, 2013
So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.
updated 11:34 AM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
Relatives of nine people killed said an invitation to attend an event on the eve of the remodeled complex's reopening is "disgusting."
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Colorado movie shooting suspect James Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of first-degree murder -- two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the shooting.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
From the silver lining of welcoming a newborn into the world on Tuesday to promising to live life to the fullest, survivors are looking forward.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Sun July 22, 2012
James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a quiet, clean-cut doctoral student.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman opened fire at a movie theater on July 20, killing at least 12 and wounding 38. Here are some of the worst U.S. mass shootings since World War II.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
Photos of the scene in Aurora after the shooting took place.
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman sprayed the audience with gunfire during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 38 others, authorities said.
Are you a friend or family member of one of the victims? Share your tributes here.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT