LEWISTON — More than $2.4 million has flowed into a fund established to help victims of the Oct. 25 mass shooting that left 18 people dead and 13 injured at two Lewiston entertainment venues.

Administrators of the Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund began Wednesday to figure out how to distribute the money.

The plan begins by dividing potential recipients of the donations into four broad categories: The families of the dead; those with physical injuries caused by gunfire; those hurt in the chaos; and — by far the largest group — anyone who was present for the shootings at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille who experienced psychological trauma.

It is not clear yet how much anybody is to receive because money is still coming into the fund and it is not known how many people will qualify for the money.

Jeff Dion, executive director of the National Compassion Fund, speaks during a town hall Wednesday at Lewiston Middle School about how donations for the victims of the Oct. 25 mass shootings in Lewiston might be distributed. An American Sign Language interpreter stands next to Dion. Steve Collins/Sun Journal

Overseers of the fund, mostly local people, are expected to determine within a week or so the rules governing distribution of the money.

It is not a simple process or one lacking in alternatives.


One badly injured survivor, Ben Dyer of Auburn, called the categories “bull.”

“This is Maine,” he said. “This is where we all stick together. We represent each other. We stand as a whole.”

Dyer, who spent many days in the hospital, said everybody should get the same amount. It appears, however, the fund will follow the practice of many similar efforts in other communities by handing out more money to those who suffered most.

Jeff Dion, a lawyer who has dealt with 30 funds for various mass shootings over the past decade, said, “Nobody is sitting in judgment of who deserves money.”

He said every penny donated will be handed out to those who qualify, with different payments likely for those in each category.

Dion said the heirs of those who died will likely get the most, with those injured collecting the next highest figure.


The only indication of how much that might be is that the fund is willing to give a $20,000 advance on the payout for families of those who died and a $10,000 advance to anyone injured. Dion said he was confident those numbers would not exceed the final distribution.

Before anyone gets any cash, he or she must prove eligibility. In other places, Dion said, there have been fake applications that had to be weeded out.

All of the information gathered by the group will be confidential, he said, and there will never be a public list of who receives what.

Dion said the fund overseers and the experts working with them, who are volunteers or paid with money from sources other than the donations made for victims, are willing to help people figure out how to file applications for funding.

In the end, Dion told about 60 people who gathered for a town hall at Lewiston Middle School: “You can do whatever you want with the money. There are absolutely no restrictions.”

The money is a gift, he said, from people around the world who chipped in for those who suffered in Lewiston.

“People want to help,” Dion said, “and they wanted to help everybody.”

The money will likely be distributed in mid-March. Applications are likely due in January.

For details about the fund and the proposed distribution plan, see www.mainecf.org/Lewiston.

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