Families of CO shooting victims: Where are donations going?
Eleven of 12 people killed in the Colorado theater. From top left: Alex Teves, Jesse Childress, Alex Boik, Jessica Ghawi, Micayla Medek, Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, Rebecca Wingo, John Larimer, Gordon Cowden and Veronica Moser-Sullivan. (Source: Fox)
After a vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center, gatherers keep candles lit at the memorial for the victims of the 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting in Aurora, CO. (Source: Brian T. McGinn)
AURORA, CO (RNN) - Millions in donations have poured in for victims in the wake of the Colorado theater shooting, but families have only seen a fraction of the money collected in their names.
Families of 18 of the victims came together Tuesday for an emotional press conference. They said in a statement that "using our murdered loved ones' pictures and names was not right," when money wasn't going to the families.
More than $5 million was donated through the Giving First website to Community First Foundation's Aurora Victim Relief Fund. So far, only $350,000 has been scheduled to go out to victims in packs of $5,000 each. Another $100,000 has gone out to 10 area nonprofits.
That means in the month following the horrific shooting, victims have seen less than 1 percent of the donations supposedly made for them.
The families said they wanted a "robust voice for the victims" to be included in deciding how to disburse the money. They had no say in the nonprofits that got funding from the donations.
Chantel Blunk, whose husband Jonathan was killed in the shooting, flew from Nevada to be part of the news conference. She got $5,000 but was told there was no more funding available to pay for travel for her two young children. She was also told the $5,000 was all she would get from the fund.
She said she would raise money on her own if need be to watch the court proceedings against the alleged shooter in Aurora.
"I'm my husband's voice," she said. "I represent my husband and my kids."
Travel is only one of the things families said they would spend the money on.
Eriz Scott said her family was struggling as their emotional needs made it difficult to work. Her son, Jarrell Brooks, has been widely heralded as a hero after he saved a mother and her young child in the shooting.
"We're not able to perform at a normal level. For a lot of us, it's just a comfort level that we can bond together and get through all this, and not worry about whether our bills are going to get paid or how our medical bills are going to get paid," Scott said.
"Nobody's trying to get rich - we just want to be able to take care of our families so we can get through this with some kind of dignity."
Melisa Cowden lost her former husband, Gordon Cowden, in the shooting. Through tears, she said she didn't know how her children would cope with growing up without their father.
"I have four kids now that will go through the rest of their life without their dad," she said. "If there's a medical emergency, if anything happens, who will they turn to? Their parents.
"It's not just about the money, it's about the families. This is about taking care of our children."
The families are set to meet with officials from the Community First Foundation on Friday.