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$3.9 million awarded to support 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims, survivors

The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Google Maps/Released)

Nearly $4 million will go toward victims and survivors of the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The money from the Office for Victims of Crime — just under $3.9 million — comes from a grant from the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program.

Eleven worshippers across the three congregations were killed in the Oct. 27, 2018, attack on the Squirrel Hill synagogue. Two other congregants and five police officers were wounded in the shooting.

The funds will go to Pennsylvania’s Office of Victims’ Services to finance a variety of support programs, including mental health counseling, trauma training for therapists, and counseling for first responders.

“We recognize that programs being supported by this funding are lifelines to this community; and we pray the services and hope they offer will provide an unwavering foundation for those impacted by this act of hate,” Jessica Hart, director of the Office for Victims of Crime, said in a statement.

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Money will also go toward reimbursing expenses for the three congregations worshipping in the synagogue when the attack took place: Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light.

“The taking of innocent lives in a house of worship is not only a shocking crime, it must be a particular abomination in the eyes of God,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs, the program under which the Office for Victims of Crime falls.

The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, created in 1995, offers grants to support victims and areas that have experienced terrorism and mass violence. The money comes from the Crime Victims Fund, which is financed by fines and penalties levied against convicted federal offenders.

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© 2020 The Tribune-Review