As the small town of Lewiston, Maine transitioned from a tranquil Wednesday evening to a horrific night of terror, the once ordinary community gathering had turned into a deadly rampage. Adorned with tales of laughter, cornhole tournaments, and hearty meals, the chilling echo of gunfire had abruptly disrupted all joy.
A lethal mass shooting which sent shockwaves through the town and beyond, now marks the nation’s bloodiest massacre this year. It had left a trail of eighteen lost lives including innocent minors, and thirteen injured, adding to the already swelling number of gun-related atrocities in the country.
The mammoth manhunt that followed ended in tragedy when the suspected perpetrator, Robert Card was found lifeless by the riverbed of Lisbon Falls. Investigations revealed his demise by a self-inflicted gunshot, marking an ominous end to an agonizing two-day search.
The victims’ stories unfolded as heart-rending narratives of everyday individuals who met an untimely end. They ranged from a college-going lad who was engrossed in a bowling game with his father, to an elderly gentleman who was the oldest person to have perished in the tragic event.
Among the victims was Tricia Asselin, a 53-year-old employee of the ill-fated bowling alley, Just-in-Time Recreation. On the fateful day, she had exhibited courage and selflessness in the face of horror. Tragically, her actions led to her untimely demise, leaving her surviving sister to recount her bravery.
Stephen Vozzella, too, was claimed by the shooting. Honoring his memory, the New England Deaf Cornhole community shared Vozzella’s enthusiastic participation in their competitions brought the events alive. His life was taken abruptly leaving a vacuum in his community.
Apart from Vozzella, the community lost another three of its cherished members, as noted by the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. Among those were cornhole enthusiast Peyton Brewer-Ross, who was caught in the crossfire at the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant during the tournament.
Other victims included Tommy Conrad, a bowling alley manager, and Michael Deslauriers II who lost their lives attempting to protect the community, while Jason Walker, Bryan MacFarlane, Arthur “Artie” Strout, Joseph Walker, William “Bill” Young, and Aaron Young also fell prey to the ill-fated event.
Lives were irrevocably impacted, not only of the departed but also of those left behind. For instance, Joshua Seal, 36, was a crucial figure in the Maine deaf community, interpreting Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ and Dr. Nirav Shah’s daily Covid-19 briefings. His loss has left a significant void in countless lives, not least of those being his wife and four children.
Heroic tales also emerged in the aftermath of the shooting. Lucille and Bob Violette tried to save their students amidst the chaos, tragically losing their lives in the process.
Ron Morin, known for his infectious energy, was claimed by the tragedy, leaving behind a sorrowful legacy. Larger-than-life figures like William Frank Brackett and Bill Young, a loving father and the rock of his family, mark the heavy toll of the massacre. Each story adds another layer of grief to the mournful saga.
As the town begins its long and painful process of healing, across the nation, the conversation about gun violence remains perpetually consequential. As we remember the victims and seek comfort in prayers, we remain hopeful, in the face of such tragedies, for a tomorrow more peaceful than today.