There is a big pot of money on the state level waiting for victims of the Pulse terror attack.
The Victims’ Compensation Fund is set up to help victims of crime, statewide.
9 Investigates’ Daralene Jones found out there are restrictions on who can apply and for how much.
Demetrice Naulings is living life out of a suitcase in a motel, afraid to go home because in the hours after the Pulse terror attack, he was overwhelmed by the media.
“Mentally, I’m not the same,” said Naulings.
He made it out of the club safe, but his friend, Eddie Justice, didn’t make it out alive.
Piercing sounds of gunshots haunt Naulings, so much so, he says he hasn’t been able to return to work.
“I work at a nightclub and the trauma happened at a nightclub,” Naulings said.
He didn’t know he could apply for financial assistance through the victims compensation fund, run through the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
One-hundred and forty-nine people have already applied.
It’s part of the state and federal help victims are being told they must exhaust before private donations will kick in.
About $13 million is available right now.
“It’s a pretty straightforward application, however, it requires a lot of supporting documentation,” said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.
Legally, the state is not allowed to compensate anyone convicted of a felony, and there is a cap of $15,000 for victims, $25,000 for families of the deceased, and $50,000 if a victim has catastrophic injuries.
There are systems in place to prevent victims from dipping into more than one fund for help.
“If you get compensation from this fund, and later are compensated from another source, you may have to repay this fund,” Sheaffer said.
Naulings knows he needs financial help, but for now his focus is on trying to cope with the trauma, using encouraging words and notes from his Bible to help.
“When I have to bury my friend, when I have to say goodbye, I think it will be real for me,” he said. “Reality will set in.”
A spokesperson said they have no reason to believe the shooting could wipe out the fund.
It’s replenished with federal funding and court fees.
An annual report shows the fund paid about $50,000 each of the last two fiscal years, so there aren’t a lot of victims tapping into it.
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