Officials announce plan to divide funds raised in Charleston church shooting

Officials announce plan to divide funds raised in Charleston church shooting
Photo source: Lori Stottlemyre
Photo source: Lori Stottlemyre

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Attorneys and city officials announced how the $2.8 million raised for the family members of the shooting victims in the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME will be distributed.

The announcement was made inside Charleston City Council Chambers at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Officials say of the $2.8 million raised through the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, $300,00 went toward funeral costs. The remaining $2.5 million will be divided among surviving family members of the nine shooting victims, as well as five people who were inside the church at the time of the shooting.

A more complete breakdown of the distribution will proceed as follows:

55 percent will be divided among the victims' families

25 percent will be split among the 5 survivors of the incident

10 percent will be divided among surviving dependents of the victims who are minors

5 percent will be split among college-age dependents

5 percent will be dedicated toward special needs determined by the administrator of the trust

The fund was set up by the City of Charleston in the days after the shootings. Within a month of the incident, more than one million dollars in donations had been raised.

"This tragedy wasn't planned," said Daniel L. Simmons Jr., whose father was among those murdered June 17.  "It's taken the whole city and state by surprise."

Mayor Riley said he along with a team of attorneys met with family members Thursday to explain the distribution process, and added none expressed opposition to what was decided.

"I think it goes without saying, none of us, ever wanted to ever have to be here and work out a situation like that," said attorney Joe Motley.  He worked on similar projects following national tragedies on September 11, and the Boston Marathon bombings.

In all, a team of 42 attorneys worked pro bono, to craft the city's distribution plan.  The process is expected to begin as early as next week, with funds distributed tax free.

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