Over a Thousand Gather to Honor Victims of Maine’s Deadliest Shooting in a Day Devoted to Prayer, Contemplation, and Hope

by Gabriel Martinez
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Maine's deadliest mass shooting

As the citizens of Lewiston resume their daily routines on Monday, they bear the emotional weight of a Sunday spent in collective mourning, honoring the victims of the most devastating mass shooting in Maine’s history. The prior evening had seen them assembled, offering one another consolation, joining in a heartfelt rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and heeding the wisdom of spiritual leaders who spoke of resilience, recovery, and the transformative power of prayer.

The vigil, hosted at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, drew an attendance exceeding 1,000 people. Several attendees were seen burying their faces in their hands as the names of the 18 individuals fatally shot last Wednesday were read out loud, while others silently shed tears.

In addition to those present in the basilica, hundreds more participated remotely by watching a live stream displayed on a large screen situated in front of the church. Various individuals held American flags, while others carried candles encased in cups, each inscribed with the names of the deceased and wounded.

Rev. Gary Bragg from the Southern Baptist Church in Lewiston urged those in attendance to prioritize long-term healing over temporary relief. He invited the assembled crowd to warmly greet their neighbors and ponder ways they might offer assistance to each other.

Prior Reporting

Among the victims were a teenage bowler, a shipbuilder, and a sign language interpreter. Authorities had been alerted to threats from the shooter weeks before the tragic event, resulting in heightened concerns among the local populace during the extensive search for the suspect responsible for the 18 fatalities.

The vigil occurred two days subsequent to the discovery of suspected gunman Robert Card’s body in a trailer at a Lisbon Falls recycling center. Authorities have stated that Card died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, though the exact timing remains uncertain. Card was also implicated in the wounding of 13 others during his shooting spree in Lewiston.

Religious leaders from various faiths—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—addressed the anguish and subsequent recovery process that the community, which numbers around 40,000, now faces. A representative from Lewiston’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community also spoke, as four members had lost their lives in the horrific event.

Kevin Bohlin, representing the deaf community, communicated his message via sign language, which was then interpreted. He emphasized the intimate impact of the tragedy on his community. His sentiments were visibly echoed by multiple attendees who were also communicating through sign language during the vigil.

In their addresses, spiritual leaders stressed the community’s newfound commonalities of grief, concern, anxiety, and loss in the wake of the tragedy. Nonetheless, they reiterated the resilience of Lewiston, emphasizing that the community would rise from this, not merely as “Lewiston Strong” but even stronger.

Earlier on Sunday, the ripple effects of the tragedy were felt in several church services. At the morning mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, for instance, multiple women donned black veils, and it was announced that funds were being raised to assist those affected by the terrible events.

At Lisbon Falls Baptist Church, the atmosphere shifted from warmth to solemnity as Rev. Brian Ganong acknowledged the tragedy, praying for everyone impacted—victims, their families, first responders, medical staff, and even the family of Robert Card.

Authorities continue their investigation into the motive behind the shooting, with an increasing focus on Card’s mental health. Michael Sauschuck, State Department of Public Safety Commissioner, noted that Card had exhibited paranoid behavior and possibly experienced auditory hallucinations.

By Saturday, a modicum of normalcy had returned to Lewiston, evidenced by the commencement of deer hunting season and the distribution of flower bouquets downtown. Yet visible signs of the tragedy persisted. At Schemengees Bar & Grille, one of the shooting locations, workers in hazmat suits were observed meticulously cleaning the premises.

The shocking events have particularly rattled a state with a low incidence of violent crime, and only 29 reported homicides for the entire year of 2022. According to data maintained by AP and USA Today in collaboration with Northeastern University, the Lewiston incident marks the 36th mass killing in the United States this year.

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News journalists David R. Martin and Matt Rourke in Lewiston, Maine, and Michael Casey in Boston.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maine’s deadliest mass shooting

What was the main event covered in the text?

The main event covered in the text is a vigil held at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, Maine, to honor the victims of the state’s deadliest mass shooting.

Who attended the vigil?

Over 1,000 residents of Lewiston attended the vigil in person, while hundreds more watched a live stream of the event. The gathering included religious and community leaders from various faiths.

How did the community respond during the vigil?

The community came together in a show of collective mourning, unity, and resilience. Participants hugged each other, listened to religious leaders, and sang hymns like “Amazing Grace.”

Who were the speakers at the vigil?

Speakers at the vigil included Rev. Gary Bragg from the Southern Baptist Church, along with other Christian leaders, a rabbi, and an imam. Additionally, a representative from Lewiston’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community, Kevin Bohlin, also addressed the gathering.

What messages were conveyed by the speakers?

The speakers emphasized the importance of long-term healing over temporary relief, the resilience of the community, and the transformative power of prayer and faith. They urged the community to come together and support each other in these challenging times.

What is known about the suspected gunman?

The suspected gunman, identified as Robert Card, was found dead in a trailer at a Lisbon Falls recycling center. Authorities believe he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is also suspected of injuring 13 other people during his shooting spree.

Are authorities close to identifying a motive for the shooting?

Authorities are still investigating the motive but have increasingly focused on the gunman’s mental health. It was noted that Card believed people were talking about him, and there may have been auditory hallucinations involved.

How has the tragedy impacted the state of Maine?

The mass shooting has significantly impacted a state not accustomed to such violent crime, becoming the deadliest shooting in Maine’s history. It has led to a collective reevaluation of safety and community well-being in the state.

What other community responses have there been?

Apart from the vigil, the tragedy has shaped several church services, and funds are being raised to assist those affected. Signs of a return to normalcy are evident, but the emotional toll remains substantial.

How does this incident fit into the broader context of mass killings in the U.S.?

The Lewiston mass shooting is the 36th mass killing in the U.S. in the current year, according to a database maintained by AP and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.

More about Maine’s deadliest mass shooting

  • Maine’s Deadliest Shooting: A Community Mourns
  • Lewiston Community Vigil: Video Coverage
  • U.S. Mass Killings Database: Updated Stats
  • Mental Health and Gun Violence: Exploring the Connection
  • Maine Department of Public Safety: Official Statements
  • Fundraising Efforts for Maine Shooting Victims
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Investigation Update

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