Orlando Gets DOJ Grant to Help Nightclub Shooting Victims

(CN) – The Justice Department announced a multimillion-dollar grant to assist victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The $8.4 million victim-services grant has been awarded to the Florida Office of the Attorney General, which will be in charge of distributing the money, the Justice Department said.

During the June 12, 2016, massacre, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. The attack resulted in 49 deaths and left more than 50 people injured. Mateen was shot and killed in a standoff with police.

“We continue to mourn those who were taken from us that awful day, and we admire the resilience of the great city of Orlando. With this grant, we reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment to the people of Orlando, the families of the victims and all who are helping those affected by this heinous crime,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

The grant was authorized under the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, via the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime.

Marilyn McCoy Roberts, the acting director of the Office for Victims of Crime, said the grant will reimburse victim-services costs incurred by the operation of a family assistance center immediately after the shooting.

The grant will also “ensure that victims, witnesses and first responders receive necessary services to help them adjust in the aftermath of violence, begin the healing process and cope with probable re-traumatization,” Roberts said.

Following the Oklahoma City bombing In 1995, Congress established the Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve and authorized the Office for Victims of Crime to set aside up to $50 million annually from the reserve, to assist victims in extraordinary circumstances.

Regional jurisdictions can apply for grants after acts of terrorism or mass violence. They can request aid for crisis response, criminal justice support, crime victim compensation and training and technical assistance expenses, according to the Justice Department’s statement.

Grants have been awarded in response to several recent mass killings, including the 2015 San Bernardino attack, the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

This past January, federal authorities charged Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting her husband’s support for the Islamic State.

Last Friday, a federal judge in Florida granted federal prosecutors’ motion to revoke an Oakland judge’s order to release Salman. She will remain behind bars while awaiting further proceedings in the criminal case against her.

 

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