Benefits for Club Blu victims

Posted at 10:29 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 22:29:41-04
Victims of a recent mass shooting in Fort Myers could be losing out on thousands of dollars to help them recover from the trauma. The attack at Club Blu in Fort Myers two weeks ago, killed teenagers Stef'an Strawder and Sean Archilles. There were more than a dozen others hurt.
Crimestoppers is still asking people for tips that may help with the investigation.
"These families deserve justice," Trish Routte with Crimestoppers said. "eighteen people that were shot deserve justice."
Justice has been hard to come by. Police say many witnesses, even some people who were shot will not cooperate. 
The shooter is still on the loose. 
Four In Your Corner spoke to a criminal defense attorney not associated with the case to find out why more people won't talk to police. 
"It's because they don't trust the police and in turn the police won't really get much out of the people," Abizer Ghadali said.
The victims who retracted their statements may also be turning their back on a lot of money. Ghadali says Club Blu survivors could be eligible for up to $25,0000 from the state's victim compensation fund. 
"People affected by the club Blu shooting would definitely fall under the umbrella of people that could benefit from the Victims Compensation Fund." Ghadali said. "They would help with loss of wages, loss of support, there's a bunch of categories that they cover that they try to make life easier for someone that may have been a victim of a crime."
Many victims don't even know this money is available. The Florida Attorney General's Victim Compensation Fund is designed to alleviate out-of-pocket expenses as medical bills, lost wages, funeral bills, and counseling related to the impact of the crime when there is an injury or death, or threat of injury to the victim.
The program is funded by fines and fees paid for by people convicted in the court system. Victims and families of victims have to apply for the money within a year of the crime. 
"The victim or the families of a victim would have to cooperate with law enforcement throughout the procedure," he said. "Not just law enforcement, but also the State Attorney's office and the Attorney Generals Office if they need to."
While witnesses may have retracted their statements, Ghadali says the State Attorney's Office can always go back and subpoena people or have them do dispositions. 

For a copy of the Victim Compensation Fund application, click here.