Sunday, June 23

Family and friends mourn 18 killed in Lewiston, Maine, shootings

A gunman opened fire at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, killing 18 people in the deadliest mass shooting in state history.

In a statement Friday, Gov. Janet Mills called the victims “our family, friends, colleagues and neighbors,” and said she knew some of the victims personally. One — Joshua Seal, whom Mills called a friend — had provided American Sign Language interpretation during the governor’s COVID-19 briefings.

“It is often said that our state is ‘one big, small town’ because Maine is such a close-knit community,” Mills said. “Tonight, I ask Maine people to join me in reading their stories, learning who they were, celebrating them as beloved people and mourning them as irreplaceable.”

Here’s what we know so far about the victims:

Tricia Asselin, 53

Tricia Asselin’s mother, Alicia Lachance, told Rolling Stone that Asselin was standing with her sister Bobbi when the shooting started at Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley. Asselin ran to get her phone to call 911 to “save the kids,” Lachance told the magazine.

Asselin worked at Modula USA, which specializes in automated storage systems, according to a Facebook post from the company. She also worked part time at the bowling alley and Apple Valley Golf Course, Chad Hopkins, her boss at the latter, told the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Hopkins told the local paper that Asselin “never stood still” and was a “helper first and foremost.” Asselin raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research, Hopkins told the paper.

William Brackett, 48

On a family GoFundMe page, Kristen Smith remembered William Brackett — her sister-in-law’s husband — as someone who loved darts, cornhole, fishing and hunting.

“Billy was a son, a husband, a father, a uncle and a friend to many, especially in the deaf community he loved so much,” Smith wrote.

Brackett’s father told USA TODAY that his son was part of a group of deaf adults who met weekly at Schemengees Bar & Grille to play cornhole and darts. He was there Wednesday night when shooting erupted.

Brackett’s brother-in-law, Brian Smith, told the Portland Press Herald that Brackett married his wife, Kristina, in August 2020 and they had a 2-year-old daughter, Sandra. Billy and Kristina met through mutual friends in the deaf community, Smith told the newspaper.

Peyton Brewer-Ross, 40

Older brother Ralph Wellman Brewer wrote on a GoFundMe page that Peyton Brewer-Ross was “doing well in life,” with a job as a pipe fitter he loved. As part of that job, he had assisted in the launch of USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr., a guided missile destroyer.

Brewer-Ross had a “partner in life” named Rachel, and a young daughter named Elle, Brewer said. He said his brother was playing cornhole with friends at Schemengees when the shooting happened.

Brewer told the Associated Press that Brewer-Ross and Rachel had just celebrated Elle’s second birthday two weeks earlier.

The Machinists Local S6 union remembered Brewer-Ross as a “kind, upstanding member of our community,” who did all he could to support his fellow workers.

“His love of cornhole, wrestling and comic book heroes made him a colorful character to be around,” the union wrote in a Facebook post. “He could often be heard quoting ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, one of his favorite wrestlers.”

Brewer-Ross graduated from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works’ apprenticeship program in 2022, the company said in a Facebook post.

Thomas Conrad, 34

Friend Adam Stoddard told the Portland Press Herald that Thomas Conrad served in the Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Conrad moved back to Maine to be closer to his daughter, Caroline, Stoddard told the paper. The paper reported that Conrad was hired as a manager at Just-In-Time Recreation earlier this year.

Michael Deslauriers II, 51

Vicki Deslauriers Roy posted on Facebook Thursday that her brother, Michael Deslauriers II, was “incredibly selfless, almost to a fault.”

“Yes, he was a smart ass and would never miss an opportunity to crack a joke at someone else’s expense, but he would happily give you the shirt off his back,” Roy wrote.

Roy told ABC News that Deslauriers had a girlfriend and three children.

His father, Michael Deslauriers Sr., posted on the Sabattus Historical Society Facebook page Thursday that the younger Michael and his friend Jason Walker “made sure their wives and several young children were under cover” as they charged the shooter at Just-In-Time Recreation.

Maxx Hathaway, 35

On the family’s GoFundMe page, Maxx Hathaway’s sister Kelsay wrote that he has two daughters and a third on the way. Hathaway, a full-time stay-at-home dad, loved anime, gaming and playing pool, Kelsay said.

“He was goofy, down to earth person, loved to joke around and always had an uplifting attitude no matter what was going on,” Kelsay Hathaway said.

The Portland Press Herald, citing family members, said Hathaway had stayed behind to play pool at Schemengees after his wife, Brenda, returned home with their toddler.

Bryan MacFarlane, 41

Sister Keri Brooks told CNN that Bryan MacFarlane was playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees when the shooting happened. He regularly plays Wednesdays with other deaf people, Brooks said.

Brooks said MacFarlane was among the first deaf people in Vermont to get a commercial driver’s license. He loved riding motorcycles and hanging out with his dog, Brooks said.

Brooks also told the Portland Press Herald that MacFarlane returned to Maine recently to be near his mother, who lives in Lewiston.

Keith Macneir, 64

Ronald G. Morin, 55

Family member Cecile Francoeur Martin told the Bangor Daily News that Ronald Morin was a gregarious, upbeat person.

“He was just always smiling, happy,” Martin told the paper. “Just one of those people that if you are having a bad day, he was going to make your day better just by his presence.”

Friends and co-workers told the Boston Globe that they remember Morin as a regular in the cornhole leagues at Schemengees, as well as a popular adult softball umpire.

Joshua Seal, 36

Owen Logue, who had worked with Joshua Seal at the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, told The Times that Seal was very well known for his work interpreting Maine’s governor and the director of the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every day, you would see him doing the interpreting,” said Logue, who retired as executive director of the center in 2021. “He was a gifted interpreter. But more than that, he was a gifted individual. He was young and vibrant. He just loved life.”

Seal worked with a teammate, who relayed officials’ spoken words to him in sign language. Seal, a native American Sign Language signer, would convert the messages to make them easier to understand for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“There’s not much delay. It was extremely fast for him to be able to take that information,” Logue said.

Seal had four young children, and the family would often go camping, Logue said. In a Facebook post, Elizabeth Seal, Joshua’s wife, called him the “world’s BEST father.”

“He had a wonderful smile. He was a very gentle man,” Logue said. “He was very devoted to his deaf community. He was always there for anybody.”

Dr. Nirav D. Shah, whose coronavirus briefing was interpreted by Seal, called Seal “the literal voice (and) face of the COVID response for the Deaf community” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“He will be forever missed and always remembered as part of Maine’s history,” said Shah, the former director of the Maine CDC who is now principal deputy director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arthur Strout, 42

Arthur Barnard told CBS News that he and his son, Arthur Strout, had planned to leave Schemengees together because Strout didn’t bring his car. But Strout decided to stay longer.

Ten minutes later, Barnard told the outlet he got a phone call about the shooting.

A woman shows a picture of a man on a cellphone.

Bonnie Caron shows a photo of Arthur Strout, the father of her first child, at her home in Sabattus, Maine, on Friday.

(Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)

Tyler Barnard, Strout’s brother, called him “the other guy in my life I could depend on” in a Facebook post Friday. Strout had just given him advice on becoming a new parent, Tyler Barnard wrote.

“I’ve always tried to compete against you in everything … always jealous because you were better at it all,” Tyler Barnard said.

Strout leaves behind his wife, Kristy, and five children, according to a GoFundMe page organized for the family.

Robert Violette, 76, and Lucille Violette, 73

Lucielle Violette worked for Lewiston Public Schools for 52 years, district Supt. Jake Langlais said in an announcement Friday. Langlais remembered Lucy as “one of the kindest people I have ever met.”

“Her smiling just a few days ago is the image I see when I close my eyes,” Langlais said. “That’s the memory we should carry with us.”

On the family’s GoFundMe page, Cassandra Violette — the couple’s daughter-in-law — said Robert Violette volunteered countless hours teaching children to bowl and offering them life lessons. Eyewitnesses told the Portland Press Herald that Bob stood between the shooter and the children in his bowling league.

Bob Violette worked part time as a delivery driver for Lee Auto Malls Auburn, according to a Facebook post. In a November 2020 post in honor of Veterans Day, the company saluted Violette, who enlisted in the Navy at 19 and became a boatswain’s mate aboard the USS Ranger aircraft carrier supporting troops in Vietnam.

“Bob died protecting a group of children he was with at the Just-in-Time bowling alley,” the company said. “That sounds exactly like the Bob we knew.”

The couple leave behind three sons and six grandchildren, according to the family’s GoFundMe page.

Stephen Vozzella, 45

In a Facebook post, New England Deaf Cornhole said Stephen Vozzella brought excitement and a “huge smile” to the group.

The National Assn. of Letter Carriers in a statement said it was “heartbroken” to learn of Vozzella’s death. Vozzella was a member of the union’s Branch 241, the group said.

Jason Walker, 51

In a Facebook post, the Sabattus Historical Society said Jason Walker “did some amazing work” for the organization — capturing personal stories of the community’s senior citizens.

In another Facebook post, Michael Deslauriers Sr. said Walker and his son, Michael Deslauriers II, “made sure their wives and several young children were under cover” as they charged the shooter at Just-In-Time Recreation.

Joseph Walker, 57

Joseph Walker had worked at Schemengees for more than six years and was a manager there, said his dad, Leroy Walker Sr.

The elder Walker, 74, said the state police told the family that when the shooting happened, his son had grabbed a long bladed knife “and tried to do something to stop [the gunman] from killing anybody.”

“We knew how to, most of the time, control people without getting hurt. But this time…,” Walker trailed off. “You don’t take a knife to a gunfight, and my son thought he was going to do it and it ended up costing him his life.”

Walker remembered his son as someone who raised “many, many dollars” for community events and fundraisers.

“My son had the biggest heart that you could ever have for people, community,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better son.”

William Young, 44, and Aaron Young, 14

William Young loved his kids, said his brother Rob Young. They were “the most important thing,” Rob said.

Bill Young, 44.

William Young

(Cynthia Young)

William Young had his 18-year-old daughter’s name tattooed on his forearm, and he’d taken Aaron — a talented young bowler — to Just-In-Time for league competition. Three weeks ago, Aaron had bowled 275 there.

Aaron Young, 14.

Aaron Young

(Cynthia Young)

Rob Young described his brother — all 6-foot-3, 260 pounds — as a “man’s man,” a goofy “life of the party” — and his best friend. Aaron, an intelligent kid, idolized his dad and wanted to be just like him, Young said.

“They were both the apple of each other’s eyes,” he said.

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