News

Help is here

State and county offer assistance to California victims of Las Vegas shooting

by

comment

When Stephen Paddock decided to carry out one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent American history from his 32nd-story suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the 64-year-old gambler took aim at a crowd of thousands of concertgoers who'd gathered to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival. When the shooting finally stopped, Paddock had killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others before turning the gun on himself.

More than half of those killed and an as yet uncounted number of the massacre's survivors hailed from California. Now, with the country still reeling from the attack, government agencies are offering assistance, resources, and services to the families of the dead and the shooting's survivors in California, including those in SLO County.

"We've already had some people coming forward," said Diana McPartlan, director of the SLO County District Attorney's Office Victim Witness Assistance Center.

In the days following the shooting, McPartlan's department announced that it would be offering assistance and aid to local shooting victims and survivors through the California Victim Compensation Board (CVCB), a state-level agency that allows crime victims to file claims for a number of critical services to help them recover. According to McPartlan, survivors and the families of those killed in the shooting can apply for funds to pay for medical care, lost wages, counseling, and even funeral and burial expenses.

"All the victim witness offices [in the state] are doing this," McPartlan said. "We help them fill out the application and learn what services are available to them."

Concertgoers who escaped the massacre without a physical injury could still qualify for mental health services, according to McPartlan.

"It was a pretty traumatic event," she said. "Many of these people will have [post traumatic stress syndrome]."

Funding for the state's victims compensation program comes from restitution fines, penalties, and assessments levied against individuals convicted of crimes and traffic offenses in California, as well as some federal funding. Speaking to New Times Oct. 7, McPartlan said that her office had gotten about four applications per day related to the shooting, and she expected that number to increase.

"We are going to be getting [applications] for quite a while," she said. "It looks like several people from our area were at the concert."

Many California residents were killed in the shooting, making up 33 of the 58 victims. Californians likely make up a large number of the shooting survivors as well. According to a study by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Californians accounted for an estimated 31 percent of all visitors to the city last year.

"We know that there were approximately 22,000 people at the event, and we consider all of those people victims," said Julie Nauman, executive officer for the CVCB. "The only firm number we know to date is the deceased, but we could be looking at as many as half of the people there being from California."

Nauman said the CVCB has worked to get those services to all victims and survivors quickly. The agency is working closely with its counterparts in Nevada, and has even created a streamlined application.

"We are prepared for all of those people who are victims. We don't want people to wonder what is happening or wait for a letter in the mail," she said. "Anyone who was there, whether they were injured or not, deserves the help we can provide." Δ

Staff Writer Chris McGuinness can be reached at cmcguinness@newtimesslo.com.

Tags

Add a comment