Relief Funds Established in Response to Navy Yard Shootings

One fund is being set up to help the families of the victims, while another will address longer-term issues of gun violence and mental health.

By: Benjamin Freed

Two special funds are being established in response to Monday's shooting spree at Washington Navy Yard, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region announced today. Terri Freeman, the foundation's president, announced the programs today with DC Mayor Vince Gray.

Donations to both funds are completely tax deductible. The first program, the Navy Yard Relief Fund, will provide direct assistance to the families of the victims killed and wounded when suspected gunman Aaron Alexis opened fire. Every cent contributed to that fund will go toward the victims and their families, the Community Foundation says.

The second fund, the Safer Communities Fund, seeks to address longer-term issues of gun violence and mental health. Money raised for that program will be contributed to organizations that seek to reduce the number of gun crimes that affect the Washington area and groups that work to improve mental health treatment.

More and more information revealed about Alexis suggest that he suffered from mental illness, though he did not seek treatment. A memorandum released today by the Department of Veterans' Affairs states that doctors at a VA hospitals in Providence, Rhode Island and Washington asked him if he had been struggling with anxiety or depression. 

Alexis raised alarms with police in Newport, Rhode Island, where he was on a business trip last month, when he said he was "hearing voices" and worried that people were following him and "sending vibrations into his body" using a microwave device. Newport police alerted Navy authorities.

"We believe that as a community, we have the power and responsibility to address both the immediacy of the impact of Monday’s tragedy, and make an effort to prevent anything like this from plaguing us in the future," Freeman said in announcing the relief funds.

The Community Foundation previously managed a $25 million fund set up to provide assistance to victims of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.