BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Next week, millions of dollars from the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund will start to go to people directly impacted by the Tops mass shooting.
Some of these payments may take a little time to be received, while hundreds of people who applied to receive money won’t see a penny.
Three days after the mass shooting, Tops and the National Compassion Fund launched the Survivors Fund. Within days the fund raised more than a million dollars. More than $6.4 million has been raised from donations across the country, when fundraising closed last month.
“All of those people cared about what happened and cared about these individuals and wanted to help and 100 percent of those dollars are going to go to the survivors of this event,” said Jeff Dion, the executive director of the National Compassion Fund. “That includes over $500,000 from Tops, over $500,000 from the Buffalo Bills, but we got donations from corporations all over the country.”
On Wednesday, the fund’s steering committee — made up of nearly 30 members from business to community leaders — unanimously approved a plan for how funds will be disbursed. Families of the 10 victims who were killed will get the most. The three people who were shot and injured will also receive a portion and so will one person who was injured but not shot. Employees at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue who weren’t working at the time of the mass shooting, will also receive a share.
“If we’re going to pay people by Zelle, they’re going to have the money in their accounts next week, if we’re paying people by check those checks will be processed next week,” Dion said.
Out of more than 500 applications to receive money from the fund — 169 applications were validated by police. That means more than 300 were rejected, because they couldn’t be validated.
“If people aren’t happy with the decision, there’s no appeal, because there’s no money left 100 percent of it has been allocated and it’s a gift, no one has a legal claim to this,” Dion said. “The other complicating factor of this is we probably have about 69 people out of that 169 who have some form of public benefits whether it’s SNAP or Medicaid.”
These folks will be recommended to take extra steps to make sure their benefits are not impacted by receiving money from the Survivors Fund.
Some of the families received advanced payments and now will receive the rest of their monetary gift. Dion says $320,000 in advanced payments was disbursed to more than 40 people. Specific dollar amounts on who received what are not being released for safety reasons. Eventually, an audit will be done on the Survivors Fund.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.