Ashtin Gamblin never realized how expensive it would be to survive a mass shooting.
But after being shot nine times in the attack at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs last November, the bills started piling up for Ms. Gamblin. Dozens of other survivors and families of the five people killed have found themselves in a similar bind. They lost paychecks, fell behind on rent and had to replace clothing seized as evidence (or, in one case, a wedding ring lost by the hospital).
Colorado has raised more than $3 million in donations for people affected by the Club Q shooting and distributed about $2 million, through a nonprofit called the Colorado Healing Fund.
But several survivors say the money has come too slowly, with too much red tape.
Just days before the accused shooter is scheduled to appear in state court, their frustrations burst into public when several survivors held a news conference pleading for the money to be handed out faster.
“This is exhausting,” Ms. Gamblin said. She has received payments through the victims fund, but said getting reimbursed had required a series of fights over receipts and questions about whether her expenses were tied to the shooting. “It has been seven months. I have not had time to cope.”
Fund officials say that they have done their best to efficiently distribute funds to cover victims’ urgent needs and financial losses, but said they also had an obligation to reserve some money for long-term support of victims.
“We’re doing our damnedest to get this right,” said Steven Siegel, a board member of the Colorado Healing Fund.
It is part of a complicated aftermath of one of the deadliest attacks ever against members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community — a story of tight bonds, but also disagreements over money and questions about how to memorialize the victims, or whether it’s appropriate for Club Q to raise funds by selling rainbow mugs and shirts evoking the shooting. The club’s owner says the money will fund a memorial and better security for when the club reopens.
On Monday, survivors and victims’ families are planning to gather in a Colorado Springs courtroom for a hearing in which they say officials have told them to expect the defendant to plead guilty to multiple counts of first-degree murder and hate crimes.
Several families and survivors, who did not want to be named, said prosecutors had discussed a possible plea agreement for months in private conversations with victims. It has sparked agonizing conversations about what constitutes justice for a defendant charged with killing five people and injuring at least 18 others.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to comment. But several victims said they had been informed of the plea and were preparing statements to make in court Monday.
Some said they had initially wanted a cathartic public trial to detail precisely how and why the shooter had attacked the club, and warning signs that had been missed or disregarded. Other victims did not want to suffer the pain of a drawn-out trial, and were relieved the state’s criminal case was ending.
Federal prosecutors could still pursue federal charges against the shooter, but have not said publicly whether they would. In an interview with The Associated Press, the accused shooter said, “I have to take responsibility for what happened” — language that struck some survivors as a self-serving evasion.
In the seven months since the shooting, Club Q employees, drag performers, survivors and families of the dead have stood together at memorials, court hearings and community celebrations.
Questions about distributing millions of dollars in donations pose a thornier challenge for the group — as they have for officials and victims in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings, Pulse nightclub shooting and other mass attacks.
Should families of the dead receive the same payout as badly wounded victims? How much for survivors with deep mental wounds but no physical injuries? Is it better to pay out everything fast, or reserve funds for future needs?
“Our job is to stay objective and think about immediate, intermediate and long-term needs of the community,” Mr. Siegel, the Healing Fund board member, said.
The fund, established in 2018,supports victims of mass shootings. Fund officials said they were giving out another $800,000 to Club Q victims and were planning to reserve about $300,000 for longer-term needs. They said that every dollar raised for Club Q would go to victims and that the fund’s administrative costs would be covered through other grants.
The money has gone to 89 people affected by the shooting. Medical bills have been defrayed through other crime-victims funds as well as by hospitals, fund officials said.
Jericho Loveall is recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg, but the financial and mental toll from surviving Club Q is as raw as ever. He tried going back to his job as a manager for a lumber company in February, but said it was too much, too soon. It has been three months since he has seen a paycheck, and he says money is so tight that when his 5-year-old asks for a juice or bag of chips at the store, Mr. Loveall, 31, cannot afford to spring for one.
He has also received money through the Healing Fund. “It’s great they’re helping,” he said. But he also wants to see the donations handed out to aid closure.
“The longer this drags on,” he said, “the more we keep having to live Nov. 19.”