Charleston distributing $2.5M donated after church slayings

Joseph P. Riley Jr.
Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. speaks at a news conference in Charleston, S.C. on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, announcing the distribution of $2.5 million to victims' families and survivors of the June 17 shootings at Emanuel AME Church. Nine people, including the church's pastor, were shot and killed at the church during a Bible Study on June 17, 2015. Riley said that 6,500 people donated to the fund from across the nation and four foreign countries. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. announced Thursday that the city is distributing $2.5 million that poured into a memorial fund started after the fatal shootings of nine parishioners at Emanuel AME church.

The money was donated by people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and four foreign nations, the mayor said. About 6,500 people donated in amounts ranging from 50 cents to $100,000, officials said.

The fund was established after the June 17 shootings during a Bible study at the historic Charleston church.

Dylann Roof has been charged and faces numerous counts in both state and federal court. The state is seeking the death penalty.

After the shootings, officials said the money would be used to pay for funeral expenses, with any excess going to the church. Riley said that later it was agreed that the money would be used for funerals and the rest distributed to victims’ families and survivors.

The mayor said about $2.8 million has been donated to the fund. He said $300,000 went initially to pay for funerals and to the church to pay for the needs of the victims in the days immediately following the shootings.

The money is in a trust account and goes tax-free to the recipients.

Under a distribution formula developed by a team of attorneys working for free, 55 percent goes to the families of those who were killed while 25 percent goes to the survivors. Three survivors were in the Bible study while two were in a nearby room.

Money is also being distributed specifically to the minor children of those who were killed, to their children now pursing post-secondary educations and to an account in which people who have provided for the victims’ families may be reimbursed for some of their costs.

The Mother Emanuel Hope Fund will continue accepting donations through year’s end.

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