Lewiston Community Responds to Horrific Mass Shooting and the Tragic Loss of 18

4 min read

Caitlin Doherty ’26

News Editor

A typical Wednesday night in Lewiston, Maine erupted into chaos and tragedy when a gunman armed with an assault weapon shot and killed 18 people, injuring 13 others on Oct. 25. The shootings occurred at two central gathering places in Lewiston, first at Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley, with the second incident occurring less than 20 minutes later at Schemengees Bar & Grille. Seven people were killed at the bowling alley, with eight others killed at Schemengees. Three died from critical wounds at the hospital. As of Sunday, Oct. 29, five injured victims are still in the hospital, with three still in critical condition, according to the Bangor Daily News.

As they played cornhole and pool at Schemengees or bowled at Just-In-Time, 18 lives were needlessly cut short, leaving behind devastated families, friends and communities. Peyton Brewer-Ross had missed previous weeks’ cornhole tournaments which he usually attended at Schemengees because of car trouble and was excited to go back the night of Oct. 25. “Peyton was doing one of the things he thought was so much fun – tossing around bean bags. He was playing cornhole with friends at Schemengees Bar and Grill when his life was cut short, way too short,” wrote Ralph Wellman Brewer, Peyton’s older brother, in a GoFundMe page post. “Most important to Peyton was his family. He leaves behind his partner in life Rachael, and their 2 year old daughter Elle. The loss of Peyton is devastating.”

Another group playing cornhole at Schemengees that night included a gathering of friends from Lewiston’s deaf community, with four members, Billy Brackett, Bryan McFarlane, Joshua Seal and Steve Vozzella, losing their lives. “It is a tragic, tragic loss for our community,” expressed Regan Thibodeau, who closely worked with Joshua Seal, in an interview with Maine Public Radio . “Many deaf people are impacted by this event. All over America. This is the first time in history that we have lost that many deaf people at once in a mass shooting.”

The town of Lewiston and surrounding areas were put under shelter- in-place advisories until Friday evening, and about two hours after the orders were lifted, the shooter was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a two-day manhunt, according to a timeline from the New York Times . Bates College, one of Trinity’s peer NESCAC institutions, is located almost directly between the two locations of the shooting. As the first news of the tragedy, students working on essays or studying with friends frantically found rooms without windows to hide and waited for updates throughout a restless night. “We have just experienced a historically tragic event, and supporting one another is our collective responsibility… This exemplifies the unity and resilience that has defined Bates and Lewiston, and will continue to do so,” wrote leadership from Bates Student Government in a letter of support to the college community on Oct. 26.

Bowdoin College, another NESCAC school located about 20 miles from Lewiston, was additionally on lockdown following the shooting. “We find ourselves a community in limbo, eerily quiet save for the distant wailing of sirens. This state of shock is too familiar. The mounting death toll in Lewiston puts the shooting among the deadliest mass shootings in United States his tory, many of which have happened in our lifetime. Sandy Hook, Pulse, Las Vegas, Parkland, Uvalde. We remember the pain, the grief, the 24-hour coverage, the ‘thoughts and prayers’ offered by government officials…” wrote the editorial board of the Bowdoin Orient, highlighting that the tragedy in Lewiston marks the 565th mass shooting in the United States this year. “We hurt for those killed and wounded in Lewiston. We hurt for their loved ones, and we hurt for the countless Americans who have been affected by gun violence. We are pleading with lawmakers—from Augusta to Washington— to make the hurt stop.”

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