Church collects $45,000 for Rifle's shooting victims


RIFLE, Colo. (AP) A church has collected about $45,000 in donations for the victims of a deadly shooting spree, but there is confusion about how to distribute the money.
St. Mary's Catholic Church started the fund to help the survivors and families of victims of the July 3 shootings that killed four people and wounded three in an RV park. Most were from Mexico.
Accused shooter Steven Michael Stagner, 42, who has a history of mental illness, faces 19 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He is being held in the Garfield County jail.
All but one of the shooting victims were members of St. Mary's Parish, so the church set up a fund at a Rifle bank to help with funeral, travel, medical and general living expenses. Church spokeswoman Irene Goergen said donations ranged from $5 from individuals to $12,000 from a foundation in Minnesota.
A separate fund at another bank pulled in about $4,000. But most of the money is just sitting in the accounts because the district attorney's Crime Victim's Compensation Fund has paid for such expenses as funeral costs and lost income for the injured.
District Attorney Mac Myers said his office last week paid out $35,179 to victims. The money comes from an assessment on offenders.
Myers said he hopes the donated funds will go to members of the victims' extended families because his money can go only to victims or immediate family members.
As many as 300 relatives of victims are now in the Rifle area. Many were already working there, and some came from Mexico after the shooting.
Goergen said she will let victims and their families decide how to split the donations unless she gets clear direction from other agencies in the next week or so.
Family members soon will receive some official help when the Mexican Consulate in Denver sends representatives to Rifle to process identification cards and passports for family members who want to stay in the country until the court case is completed.

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