On the evening of October 25 in Lewiston, Maine, tragedy struck as 18 innocent people were killed and 13 were injured, resulting in the largest mass shooting in Maine’s history since 1949. The shooting prompted a 48-hour manhunt, in which tens of thousands of residents sheltered in place throughout the area. The shooting took place at a bowling alley and restaurant.
For all of the victims, it had been a regular night. An eager 14-year-old bowler, Aaron Young, was out at the bowling alley, Joe Walker was managing the bar that night, and Arthur Strout was playing pool. What seemed like an average night in Lewiston, tragically ended as their last. Here are the stories of some of the victims.
48-year-old William “Billy” Brackett was the father of a young girl and a member of the deaf community. Brackett loved games such as darts and cornhole where he was given the nickname the “Silent Giant.” He was also an athlete throughout his earlier life, excelling at baseball, soccer, and basketball where he recorded over 1000 points. Brackett was also an avid angler who looked forward to the day he could teach his daughter.
An employee of the bowling alley, Tricia Asselin, had the night off and was bowling with her sister. Asselin, known for her generosity, contributed regularly to a local giving tree and volunteered her time with Make-A-Wish and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Asselin also loved to fish and keep up with Boston sports teams, but her proudest prize of all was her son, Brandon.
Peyton Brewer-Ross was known by many as someone you felt you knew for many years even though you had just met. A lively and full-of-life person, Brewer-Ross loved comics, wrestling, Star Wars, and the New York Yankees. Baseball was instrumental in finding the love of his life as he met his fiancée during a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game with whom he later had a child. Brewer-Ross was employed at the Bisson Moving and Storage company as a pipefitter and took part in their apprenticeship program last year.
A survivor of the shooting, Thomas Giberti, is being hailed as a hero for his work helping a portion of the youth bowling league escape the building. After leaving to retrieve screwdrivers to fix a piece of equipment, Giberti re-entered the bowling alley to find the shooting unfolding. Giberti motioned to the kids to follow him out the back door to the parking lot where Giberti was shot in the leg, however, he was discharged from the hospital a few days later.
Sadly, stories like these are not unfamiliar. This year, there have been 597 mass shootings (incidents where four or more people were shot not including the perpetrator) along with 36,659 gun deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archives. This is the reality in the United States, where a simple recreational night out could be the end of your life. As gun violence ravages lives and continues to be the leading cause of death among children in the United States, there must be gun action from the government at all levels, such as red flag laws, stricter background checks, and banning usage of military-style weapons and accessories. Even though Canada has stricter gun laws than the United States and far less shootings, this tragedy is close to home given the close proximity to Maine. Canadians in the Maritimes often drive to Maine when taking a vacation to the United States or traveling to Ontario. Nonetheless, disasters like these are becoming more common and the ones suffering are regular people.