DOJ awards $8.5M grant to victims of Pulse massacre

Greg Zanis on June 16 set up 49 memorial cross in remembrance of the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an $8.5 million anti-terrorism grant to help the victims of the shooting carried out by Omar Mateen. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI

March 14 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an $8.5 million anti-terrorism grant to help the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla.

The funds will be provided through the Justice Department’s Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Programs under the Office for Victims of Crime and allocated to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office.

The money will provide mental-health counseling to victims, witnesses and first responders. The funds will also reimburse local agencies for their efforts at the United Assistance Center, a help center which was established at the Camping World Stadium immediately after the shooting but has since moved.

Bondi’s office applied for the grant based on requests from Central Florida agencies. The city of Orlando will receive about $1.5 million, mostly as a reimbursement for the cost of operating the United Assistance Center. Orange County will receive about $1 million, which will be mostly used to provide mental-health services to first responders under a $700,000 contract with the University of Central Florida.

The United Assistance Center, also called the Family Assistance Center, is being operated by the United Way of Central Florida under a contract with Orlando. Charities including the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities will also receive some reimbursement.

Orange County Congressional Delegation representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto praised the announcement of the grant.

“After the Pulse nightclub shooting our community stepped up to take care of the victims, their families and the first responders through the Family Assistance Center. We could not be more proud of Central Florida’s response to this tragedy,” the representatives said in a statement. “We are pleased these funds are being made available to help victims and their families as they continue to heal, and to offset some of the costs acquired from local agencies.”

On June 12, 49 people were slain at the Pulse LGBT club by gunman Omar Mateen, who was killed by police.

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