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Payments coming for Colo. theater shooting victims

DENVER – A mediator handling the distribution of about $5.3 million in donations to victims of the Colorado theater shootings said Friday that disbursement amounts have been finalized.

A gunman killed 12 people and injured at least 58 others at an Aurora movie theater July 20.

Aurora Victim Relief Fund special master Ken Feinberg said Friday that the families of the 12 people killed, plus victims who sustained permanent brain damage or paralysis, will each receive $220,000.

Six people hospitalized at least 20 days will each receive $160,000. Two who were hospitalized between eight and 19 days will each receive $91,680. Thirteen people hospitalized for less than that will each receive $35,000.

Crystal Lake native John Larimer, 27, was one of the 12 people killed during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Larimer died protecting his girlfriend, Juleah Vojtsek of Algonquin. He was a Navy cryptologic technician stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.

Overall, Feinberg approved claims for 38 people and denied 19 claims that didn't qualify under previously announced protocols. He had previously said victims who didn't require overnight hospitalization and claims for mental trauma would be denied because of limited funds. All victims still have access to free counseling.

"These payments won't replace loved ones who died or completely heal all wounds," Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. "But through the generosity of others we hope victims and their families can use this money to continue their recovery."

The relief fund was created by Community First Foundation at the governor's request.

Hickenlooper, the foundation and the 7/20 Recovery Committee asked Feinberg to help decide how much each victim should receive after some families publicly criticized the foundation's early disbursements. He offered his services at no cost.

In the weeks after the shooting, the foundation said families of the 12 people killed and 58 injured would each receive $5,000. Some families questioned a decision to also give $100,000 to nonprofit groups working with victims instead of directly to families.

Last month, several families of those slain asked state officials to investigate the fund. Community First Foundation said Friday it has retained an accounting firm to conduct an independent audit of the fund, with results to be released with a final report on the fund that Feinberg plans to release in December.

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