Families of deceased Pulse patrons to get highest payments

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The families of the victims slain at the Pulse nightclub will get the most money from a fund established to help the victims’ families and survivors of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, according to a proposal released Thursday.

The fund has about $20 million. The exact amount each family will get is to be determined by how much is raised by the end of September.

“The final amount will be determined once we have a better sense of how much money there is, the nature of the injuries and how many people will come into the fund,” said Camille Biros, the fund’s deputy administrator.

Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse on June 12, leaving 49 victims dead and injuring 53 people. Police have said there were as many as 320 patrons at the club at the time.

Orlando police said Thursday that someone broke into the club Wednesday night, hours after law enforcement had turned control of Pulse back over to the club’s owners. The club had been under police custody as part of the investigation. A police report listed no motive or suspects.

“Some sick individual did this,” said an unidentified man on a 911 call reporting the break-in. “I’m sure this is going to be on some sort of bull—- magazine tomorrow.”

The OneOrlando Fund protocol was released Thursday by Kenneth Feinberg, the fund’s administrator, who also has played a similar role for funds given to victims of the 9/11 attacks, the BP oil spill and Boston Marathon bombing. Final guidelines won’t be made until after two “town hall” meetings in early August when Feinberg will outline the plan to family members, survivors and members of the public. He also will take comments and suggestions from the public.

“This is all a first draft and could be changed by public input,” Biros said.

Pulse patrons must submit their claims along with supporting documentation such as hospital paperwork by Sept. 12. Feinberg and Biros will spend the next two weeks reviewing the claims before making recommendations for payments to the One Orlando board. There is no appeal process, though Biros said if someone thinks they made a mistake “we will be happy to take another look.”

The proposal creates four classes for distributing the funds: families of deceased victims, people hospitalized for more than one night, people injured but not needing overnight hospitalization and patrons who were not hurt. Among the category of patrons hospitalized for more than one night, their numbers will be broken down by the number of nights they spent at a hospital.

“It’s not a perfect science but it will be a proxy to determine the seriousness of the injuries and be able to differentiate between those who spent two nights and those who spent three weeks or more in a hospital,” Biros said.

For those who weren’t injured, payments will be made only to patrons who were inside the club, not outside.

“Once you go outside the club, then you have issues, like how far outside the club? In the parking lot? Down the street? Biros said. “This is a draft so we are open to comment from the public.”

They will use law enforcement interviews as a reference point for determining who was in the club, but they are open to using other methods if they are brought to their attention during the town hall meetings, Biros said.

“We need to make sure we’re paying the right people,” Biros said.

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