Money is still being collected for the families of victims and survivors of the December shootings at an Omaha shopping mall. John Ewing, administrator of the Von Maur Victims Fund, says more than a million dollars has been donated since the incident that left nine people dead. Ewing says the February 1st cut-off date was just a time-line and donations are still being accepted.
Ewing says: "I still believe there will be money coming in. We’re not going to turn away any donations that people would like to make but what we wanted to do is try to encourage people to make their donations by February 1st so we would then know exactly how much money was available to be able to assist the families." Ewing says they’ve already distributed nearly a quarter-million dollars to the families of those killed or injured in the shootings at Westroads Mall.
"We’ve given out $240,000 to the 12 immediate families that were identified to us at the time where either their loved one was deceased or someone was injured and we actually did two distributions to those families after making a special request to the I-R-S," Ewing says. He says they’re now in the process of trying to meet the needs as the families identify those needs. He says they have "individuals who are professionals who are used to working with victims’ families in an effort to make sure they begin to think about their long-term and short-term needs." Ewing says they plan to hand out more money to others who may need some help.
He says, "Any Von Maur employees or citizens who were in the store at the time of this horrific incident who might need some assistance, primarily with counseling or that type of nature." Ewing says Davenport-based Von Maur contributed $500,000 to the fund and paid for the funerals of those killed in the December 5th shootings. A teenage gunman killed eight people and wounded several others before killing himself. One of the store employees was 36-year-old Angie Schuster, who grew up in Dubuque and graduated from UNI.
Another Von Maur worker who survived the shootings, 61-year-old Fred Wilson of Omaha, is a Monroe native and a retired Iowa teacher. Another Iowan, a shopper, was killed: 65-year-old John McDonald of Council Bluffs.