State will cover counseling costs for shooting witnesses

State will cover counseling costs for shooting witnesses
Leslie King, right and Tenille Beseda place flowers Wednesday Dec. 12, 2012, at the entrance to the scene of a multiple shooting yesterday at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Ore. A gunman who opened fire on shoppers at the mall had no connection to the two people he fatally shot and wanted to kill as many people as possible, police said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Witnessing something as horrific as this week’s shooting at Clackamas Town Center is a traumatic experience. With that in mine, the Oregon Attorney General’s office is pushing through an emergency plan to offer counseling for witnesses of Tuesday’s shooting.

“It’s hard to imagine the trauma and terror of witnessing a masked gunman indiscriminately firing an automatic weapon through a mall full of holiday shoppers,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “Our Crime Victims Services Division is well positioned to get people the help they may need.”

The Crime Victim Services Division has set up a program to pay for at least ten counseling sessions for people who witnessed the shooting.

People who were at the scene can fill out a form found on the state’s website.

The Crime Victim Services Division has been around since 1978 with the goal of reducing the impact of crime on victims’ lives. They pay for counseling related to violent crime and also provide up to $5,000 in funeral costs for homicide victims.

Each year they receive about 6,000 applications for help, according to an attorney general’s office spokesman.

The division is funded from federal grants and from restitution and fines paid by criminals.

People who fill out the assistance form will be contacted by the state. State compensation will generally cover the cost of counseling not paid for by insurance or employers.