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U.S. gives Florida nightclub shooting victims nearly $8.5 million

Police lock down Orange Avenue around Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman in a shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The victims of a mass shooting at a Florida nightclub in June 2016 will receive nearly $8.5 million for emotional and financial support for victims’ families, those wounded in the attack and responders, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) said the funds would be granted on Wednesday and distributed by officials in Florida, where 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Shooter Omar Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after he took hostages during a three-hour standoff inside the Pulse nightclub. He also wounded dozens more people in the June 12, 2016 attack.

“This award will reimburse victim services costs for operation of the Family Assistance Center in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and ensure that victims, witnesses and first responders receive necessary services to help them adjust in the aftermath of violence, begin the healing process and cope with probable re-traumatization,” Marilyn McCoy Roberts, the office’s acting director, said in a statement.

Similar funding was provided to help victims in other mass shootings in recent years, including in San Bernardino, California and Charleston, South Carolina, the department said in a statement.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Letitia Stein; Editing by Bernadette Baum