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Sons of two women killed in Tops shooting look for answers about Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund distribution

Talley and Jones
Posted at 1:01 AM, Jun 09, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A couple days after the deadly May 14th mass shooting at Tops, the grocery store partnered with the National Compassion Fund to provide direct financial assistance to survivors of the ten people killed, and those directly affected by this tragedy. As of June 8 it has raised close to $3 million, but families still in mourning said they have not seen any money yet.

"We don't really have a clue what's going on," said Wayne Jones, son of Celestine Chaney. "No one has really talked to us, sat the families down collectively and talked us through the process."

Celestine Chaney was one of the ten people killed in the Tops mass shooting on May 14, just a week after her 65th birthday. Geraldine Talley was also killed, her death occurred a few weeks before, what would've been, her 63rd birthday.

"No one called me and said Mr. Jones your mother died, I found this on Facebook," said Jones about the shooter's live stream of the deadly shooting. "This video plays before I lay down at night, I play this video in my head every night still. Now we are just trying to get people taken care of, and it's still a run around."

Chaney's son, Wayne Jones, and Talley's son, Mark Talley, sat down with 7 News reporter Michael Schwartz to express their frustration with logistics surrounding the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund.

"We just want to be done with this," said Jones who was informed the fund won't be distributed until after summer. "We're trying to get some closure, all this keeps doing is reopening, and reopening this wound, over and over.

Talley and Jones said they have been connecting with other families, and survivors of the shooting. They feel its harder for family members who aren't as tech savvy, to understand what the plans are.

"I know the people who donated didn't think it would get to the families in December," said Jones, who added that families are struggling with expenses after the death of their loved ones.

"Now we have to wait until December, and it may not even go to just the 13 people," said Talley. "

Reverend Mark Blue, the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund Co-Chair said on Wednesday, that the reason for this five to six-month-long process is because not all the money has been collected.

"A lot of people have pledged, but all of those monies have not come in yet," said Blue.

Blue said examples of those pledges include Tim Hortons and the Buffalo Bills, who are selling donuts and t-shirts for the 5/14 fund.

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"It's a process, and I know that's not a satisfying answer," said Blue.

Blue said on Friday the he and the fund's steering committee will discuss when the fund will be closed, and how the money will be distributed.

"After that I'm happy to sit down, and talk to the members of families, and explain the process to them," said Blue.

Both Jones and Talley expressed how grateful they are for the millions of dollars in donations, but just want to have clarity on who will get money and when.

Both men said that they feel people donated to the families of the ten people killed, and three survivors, not knowing that some money would go to shoppers who escaped and Tops employees. They feel it should be just for the 13 families in total.

"We're not trying to diminish anybody in the store went through, but it's ten dead people. Lets finish that business," said Jones. "It's three injured people, lets finish that business."

"At the very first press conference I did with Benjamin Crump, and Al Sharpton I said this is ground hogs day related to these mass shootings," said Talley. "Now having to constantly talk about my mother, the Compassion Fund, GoFundMe, donations...I'm now really living Groundhog's Day on an everyday basis."

Blue said 100% of the donations will help those impacted by the May 14 tragedy, after Tops paid the non-profit's $75,000 in fees.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office said New York State provided up to $6,000 for all ten funerals, and Douglas Development and Signature Development contributed up to $10,000 dollars for costs associated with each funeral, such as family transportation.