Patrons enjoy lunch on the patio of Blind Bob’s on September 5, 2019. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

How should Oregon District tragedy funds be distributed?

The Dayton Foundation is seeking public input into how nearly $3 million in donations raised for the victims of the Oregon District shooting should be distributed.

A volunteer board assembled to handle the funds will release a draft proposal Monday on how the money could be disbursed. Public comment sessions are scheduled at Sinclair Community College on Sept. 16.

The Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund was set up shortly after the mass shooting to “assist the victims who were physically injured and the families of the victims whose lives were taken,” according to a release from the foundation.

Foundation spokeswoman Chris Smith said current plans are to give money only to those severely physically injured and family members of those killed, not the many more who suffered emotional trauma. The “draft protocol” coming Monday that the foundation is seeking feedback on will further lay out these terms, she said.

The shooting left nine people dead in addition to the shooter (who is not eligible for the fund, Smith said). Estimates of the injured in the days after the shooting grew to 37, with 17 suffering gunshot wounds. If the money is split evenly, each of these 46 people could get more than $65,000.

Smith said the money will not come with any strings attached.

“It’s a charitable gift,” she said. “Whoever receives a check from this fund, they can do with it as they wish.”

Brian Pinson, who was shot in the backside as he ran from the shooting, said the financial toll of the shooting has piled up along with the physical pain and mental trauma. The money will be helpful, Pinson said.

“I ended up losing a job, we’re behind on rent, medical, a whole lot of stuff,” he said.

Pinson’s girlfriend Britaney Jones, also a victim, hasn’t been back to her restaurant job since she was shot in the left hand and lost her thumb.

“I appreciate it,” she said of the charity fund, but said life since the shooting has been a struggle. “Money ain’t going to solve everything. Money ain’t going to bring my thumb back.”

The Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund’s community oversight committee will hear public input on Sept. 16 from 10-11:30 a.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. at Sinclair Community College, Building 12.

Oversight committee members expected to attend include former University of Dayton president Raymond Fitz, and associate dean for students affairs at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Gary LeRoy. A moderator and sign language interpreter will participate. Parking will be free.

Smith said no administrative costs have been taken from the donations. The committee, moderator and space at Sinclair was all offered free of charge.

“One-hundred percent of the donations into the fund will go to the applicants, the victims and their families,” she said.

Financial help is also available from the state for shooting victims, though strict rules limit who can access those funds.

State records show at least 29 Oregon District shooting victims applied for assistance from the state of Ohio’s victims compensation program, which reimburses for certain expenses caused violent crimes. The fund is paid for by court costs paid by people accused of crimes.

Many of the victims and their family members applied for help with lost wages, medical bills and counseling, according to program records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

But state law may restrict some victims from getting help from that program. Any victim who was charged with a felony crime within 10 years before the shooting – even if they weren’t convicted – is ineligible for help from the program. So is anyone who had drugs in their system at the time of the shooting.

A Dayton Daily News investigation in 2017 found more people are denied aid through the program than it pays out.

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