- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Justice Department is providing nearly $8.5 million to aid victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting and to reimburse costs associated with the operation of a center that provided assistance to families in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The Office for Victims of Crime announced that the Anti-terrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant money would be distributed Wednesday.

The announcement comes nine months after gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the gay nightclub Pulse, killing 49 people and injuring 50 others. Mateen was killed by police.

“This funding will provide important support to the victims, their loved ones and communities who were affected by last year’s devastating attack on Pulse nightclub,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement announcing the grant Tuesday. “We continue to mourn those who were taken from us that awful day, and we admire the resilience of the great city of Orlando. With this grant, we reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment to the people of Orlando, the families of the victims and all who are helping those affected by this heinous crime.”

Acting Office for Victims of Crime Director Marilyn McCoy Roberts said the money would reimburse victim services costs for the operation of the Family Assistance Center as well as continue to provide funding for counseling services and financial help for victims, first responders and witnesses of the attack.

Orlando’s Family Assistance Center, set up in the immediate aftermath of the June 12 attack, served as a central location where victims and families of victims could seek assistance from a variety of agencies after the mass shooting — ranging from help arranging overseas funerals for some of the victims to help filing compensation claims.

Similar grants have been issued in the wake of the terror attack in San Bernardino, California, the Boston Marathon bombing, and after a white gunman killed nine black parishioners inside a Charleston, South Carolina church.

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