A South Texas church has received nearly $3 million in donations for victims and their families after more than two dozen worshippers died in a mass shooting last year.
The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday announced it received $2.91 million in donations after gunman Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire during church services Nov. 5.
Church leaders said $840,000 was designated for victim relief, the Dallas Morning News reported. Pastor Frank Pomeroy said about $2 million wasn’t designated by donors and about $130,000 was donated for a memorial, the church’s food pantry and funerals. The church will vote on any expenditure above $1,000 used from undesignated donations, Pomeroy said.
The $2.91 million total doesn’t include more than $24,000 designated by donors for specific survivors or families.
Months ago, some donors, survivors and victims’ families questioned how the church was spending donations. Churches aren’t required to publicize their revenue, expenditures and other financial details.
Pomeroy said church leaders couldn’t make the financial disclosure until now.
It took months for the congregation to sort through the cash and checks and arrange a system for distribution. The donations were sent to the church, a Wells Fargo relief fund and two PayPal accounts.
The church has been distributing aid when survivors and victims’ families submit forms and receipts for expenses related to the mass shooting, such as hospital bills or renovating homes for disabilities.
“I’ve always believed in transparency,” Pomeroy said. “I know it may have made it look like we were not trying to be transparent before, but we just weren’t ready.”
Lisa McNulty, whose daughter was killed in the massacre, said she’s surprised by the total donation amount and concerned with how the church is handling the money.
“The people of the United States poured their hearts out for their victims,” she said. “And I think it’s a pity it’s taken this long for anybody to receive it.”