Over a Thousand Individuals Honor Victims of Maine’s Deadliest Shooting During Day of Solemn Reflection and Prayer

by Andrew Wright
Maine's deadliest mass shooting

On a Sunday evening, a congregation exceeding 1,000 people assembled for a memorial service to pay their respects to the victims of the most devastating mass shooting in Maine’s history. Emotions ran high as the names of the 18 deceased were recited, with some attendees bowing their heads in deep sorrow, while others could not hold back their tears.

The remembrance event took place at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, a mere two days following the discovery of the lifeless body of the alleged shooter, Robert Card. The 40-year-old was found dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a trailer at a recycling facility in Lisbon Falls. The precise timing of his death remains undetermined. Authorities also indicate that Card was responsible for injuring an additional 13 individuals during his rampage in Lewiston on the preceding Wednesday night.

Rev. Todd Little of the First United Pentecostal Church of Lewiston addressed the gathering, speaking about a community forever changed but united in their “collective brokenness, anxiety, grief, and loss.” He emphasized that the community’s resilience would carry them forward, stating that they would emerge not merely “Lewiston Strong,” but “Lewiston Stronger.”

Earlier in that fateful day, church services across the town were inevitably influenced by the harrowing events and the ensuing lockdown that lasted for several days. At the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, numerous women donned black veils, and fundraising initiatives were announced to assist the shooting victims and others affected by the grievous occurrences in the close-knit community.

Rev. Daniel Greenleaf offered a message of hope amid despair, urging the faithful to draw upon the spiritual resources they have nurtured over time. “We cannot repair this situation, but humans are not mere machines to be repaired,” he noted.

Emotions were also somber at the Lisbon Falls Baptist Church, where Rev. Brian Ganong led prayers for those still battling for their lives, bereaved families, first responders, healthcare workers, and even the Card family, who have connections within the church congregation.

Investigators, spearheaded by Special Agent Jim Ferguson of the Boston office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have been focusing on Card’s mental health as a possible motive for his violent acts. Michael Sauschuck, State Department of Public Safety Commissioner, revealed that Card had been grappling with auditory hallucinations and paranoia.

As the town of Lewiston, with a population of 37,000, gradually reverts to daily activities, there remain poignant reminders of the tragic events. Cleanup crews in hazmat suits were seen at one of the shooting locations, Schemengees Bar & Grille, where a modest memorial has been erected. Members of a church from Westbrook, Maine, arrived to honor the victims, holding a hymnal vigil in front of a makeshift memorial.

Leroy Walker, a local political figure and grieving father of one of the victims, maintained a brave face as he hosted a trick-or-treat event on Sunday. Though momentarily uplifted by the embraces of community members and children, he could not conceal the pain of losing his son Joseph, remarking, “The heart doesn’t cease its bleeding. With each passing day, I miss him even more.”

This incident has shaken the State of Maine, which has a population of 1.3 million and has been historically characterized by its low violent crime rate, having only recorded 29 homicides in the entire year of 2022. Hospital officials reported the status of the injured; three remain in critical condition at Central Maine Medical Center, another is stable, and additional patients have been discharged or transferred.

The lockdown order was rescinded on Friday afternoon, shortly before the announcement of the discovery of Card’s body. According to a database 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, a grim statistic that encompasses all mass killings since 2006 in which four or more people were killed within a 24-hour period, excluding the offender.

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

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

What was the main purpose of the community gathering?

The main purpose of the community gathering was to hold a memorial service to honor and remember the victims of Maine’s deadliest mass shooting. Over 1,000 individuals attended the service at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston.

Who is Robert Card and what is his connection to the event?

Robert Card is the alleged gunman responsible for the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. His body was found two days after the incident in a trailer at a recycling center, and he is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

What are authorities investigating as a possible motive for the shooting?

Authorities are focusing on Robert Card’s mental health as a potential motive for the shooting. He had been dealing with auditory hallucinations and paranoia, according to State Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck.

How has the community responded to the tragedy?

The community has responded by coming together in various acts of unity and support. Churches have held special services, fundraising efforts are underway, and emotional memorial events have taken place to honor the victims and their families.

What are some of the long-term impacts of this event on the town of Lewiston?

While it’s too early to assess all long-term impacts, the incident has left a lasting impression on the community. The tragedy has triggered an outpouring of communal grief and solidarity, along with a renewed focus on mental health and public safety issues.

What is the current status of the injured victims?

As per the latest updates, three of the injured victims remain in critical condition at Central Maine Medical Center. Another is in stable condition, and additional patients have either been discharged or transferred to other medical facilities.

Were there any prior indications or warnings about Robert Card?

Maine police had been alerted weeks prior to the event about threats made by Robert Card, though specific details have not been disclosed.

How many people have been affected by the tragedy?

Eighteen people were killed and 13 were injured in the mass shooting, making it the deadliest such incident in Maine’s history.

What steps are being taken to support the victims and their families?

Fundraising initiatives have been started to financially assist the victims and their families. Several churches have also shaped their services around offering spiritual and emotional support to the community.

How does this event compare to other incidents of violent crime in Maine?

This mass shooting is unparalleled in Maine’s history, a state which has a relatively low violent crime rate. Maine had recorded only 29 homicides for the entire year of 2022 before this incident.

More about Maine’s deadliest mass shooting

  • Maine’s Worst Mass Shooting: A Timeline
  • Mental Health and Violence: A Complex Connection
  • Fundraising Efforts for Lewiston Victims
  • Maine’s Crime Rates: An Overview
  • U.S. Mass Killings Database
  • Support Resources for Victims and Families
  • Emergency Response in Mass Shooting Incidents
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Official Statement

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John Smith October 29, 2023 - 11:17 pm

Heartbreaking read, can’t believe this happened in our small community. where do we go from here?

Linda Davis October 30, 2023 - 7:24 am

so many lives lost… I just can’t wrap my head around it. Also, what about the warning signs? Seems like something could’ve been done earlier.

Mike Thompson October 30, 2023 - 9:42 am

Never thought I’d read about a mass shooting in Maine. A sad day indeed. This piece does justice to the severity and emotional depth of the situation.

Emily Williams October 30, 2023 - 5:07 pm

This is a very comprehensive article. Really gives us a deep look at the pain the community is going through. kudos to the writer for capturing the essence.

Robert Anderson October 30, 2023 - 8:47 pm

Good to see people coming together but its such a shame it has to be under these circumstances. And what’s being done about mental health??


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