More than $240,000 from the Von Maur Victims Fund has already been distributed to the families of the 12 store employees and shoppers who were shot at Omaha’s Westroads Mall last month. The United Way of the Midlands is handling the fund and spokeswoman Kathy O’Hara says the next step is to determine the future needs of the victims.
O’Hara says, "What we’re going to do is not only try to help them determine what they think their needs might be but also so we might understand each family’s individual situation to make that decision on the distribution of dollars." More than one-million dollars has been collected in the fund since the shootings December 5th that injured three people and left nine people dead, including the teenage gunman.
One Von Maur employee, 61-year-old Fred Wilson is a Monroe, Iowa, native and he survived the shooting. Sixty-five-year-old John McDonald, a shopper from Council Bluffs, was among the victims. O’Hara says the United Way Advisory Committee is taking steps to determine how to distribute the remainder of the money.
O’Hara says, "Because that’s what the donors intended and that’s what we want to honor to make sure that the families that have the greatest need are given the appropriate attention." O’Hara says they are currently looking at the future needs of the victims and their families.
O’Hara says, "The committee would have liked to have done interviews with families and make distributions of these dollars and perhaps close the fund in six months which would be June or July of this year." Those still wishing to donate can do so until February 1st as the website set up by Von Maur . Several of the families that received a portion of the fund have said they are very thankful and that people have been very supportive.