Committee OKs $7 million from victims fund for Oct. 1 shooting

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John Locher / AP

In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, photo, people visit a makeshift memorial for victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Thu, Dec 7, 2017 (4:01 p.m.)

A large number of claims stemming from the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip is putting pressure on the state’s crime victims fund.

A committee of state lawmakers voted today to approve pulling almost $7 million from the fund’s reserves to handle the projected cost of claims. There have been 2,903 claims filed so far.

A total of 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured when a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay into a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival.

The fund has covered all 56 requests to pay for funeral services. Those who attended the concert but were not injured are eligible for up to $5,000 in counseling services, though victims rarely receive that much in assistance, Program Manager Rebecca Salazar said.

The fund does not compensate people who were not at the concert but knew someone who was.

Concertgoers have a year to apply for compensation. The program is expected to add an outreach coordinator and is working to spread awareness among victims.

Salazar said more than $581,000 has been paid out so far. The money is not related to a GoFundMe account set up for victims.

The program typically processes applications within 48 hours, but the volume of claims after the shooting has slowed that down. Salazar said it is taking about a week to approve applications.

Payments for counseling and lost wages are made weekly, and disbursements for emergency services are released quarterly.

“Anyone that was present at the concert during the shooting is eligible to apply,” Salazar said. “There were roughly 600 people who were either injured or deceased, so they would be eligible for the majority of the benefit — the medical, the funeral payment, counseling, lost wages. The rest of the people who were present, for the most part, would be eligible for counseling.”

A new law allows the State Board of Examiners to award compensation to crime victims who are not legally living in the U.S. Assembly Bill 122, sponsored Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, became effective July 1.

The committee also approved about $53,500 for the Nevada Highway Patrol to cover the cost of protecting dignitaries for the rest of the fiscal year.

After the shooting, the patrol spent about $34,000 on dignitary protection for visits from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

John O’Rourke, colonel of the Nevada Highway Patrol, said it’s difficult to predict how much the agency must spend on such protection. “I wouldn’t be here today if the shooting did not occur in Las Vegas,” he told the committee.

A Division of Emergency Management request for $356,952 was also approved to provide New Year’s Eve security in Clark County. The original request was for $122,250.

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