Maine Shooting Victims’ Families Demand Accountability and Change

Family members of the victims of Maine’s deadliest shooting testified before an independent commission, demanding justice and systemic changes to prevent future tragedies. The shooting, which occurred in Lewiston, left 18 people dead and 13 injured, shaking the tightknit community to its core.

Relatives of the victims tearfully recounted the horrifying scenes of bloodshed, chaos, and panic that unfolded on that fateful day. Kathleen Walker, whose husband Jason was killed while bravely attempting to stop the shooter, expressed her frustration with the failure of both law enforcement and the military to intervene despite the shooter’s deteriorating mental health. “The system failed, and we can’t allow this to happen again,” she pleaded.

Stacy Cyr, partner of Michael Deslauriers, who also lost his life while charging at the gunman, echoed Walker’s sentiments, emphasizing that warning signs were ignored. Elizabeth Seal, now caring for four children after the death of her husband Joshua, stressed the urgent need for action, particularly within the deaf community, which lost four members in the shooting. Seal, who is deaf herself, highlighted the lack of American Sign Language interpreters at the crime scene, hospitals, and family gathering locations, hindering communication and exacerbating the trauma.

The commission, chaired by former Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, was established by Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey to investigate the events leading up to the shooting and propose policy changes to prevent similar incidents. The shooter, Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist, had been experiencing a mental health breakdown, which was known to both the police and the military. Card’s son and ex-wife had alerted authorities to his paranoid behavior and auditory hallucinations, and a fellow reservist explicitly warned of his intention to commit a mass killing.

Despite these red flags, Card was not disarmed, and tragedy struck. The commission aims to uncover the failures in the system and make factual findings that will inform policy changes to prevent such devastating events from recurring.

Governor Mills, in her State of the State address, focused on the shooting, proposing background checks for private gun sales, expanded mental health treatment, and amendments to the yellow flag law, which allows for the removal of firearms during psychiatric emergencies. The commission, seeking subpoena power to complete its investigation, has received unanimous support from a legislative committee.

During the emotional testimony, survivors described the graphic scenes they witnessed, the torment of survivor’s guilt, and the profound impact on their lives. Cassandra Violette, daughter-in-law of Bob and Lucy Violette, recounted her panic attack and physical distress while boarding a plane after learning of Lucy’s death. She also mentioned the bloodied wedding ring she received as a painful reminder of the tragedy.

Rachael Sloat, engaged to shooting victim Peyton Brewer Ross, a shipbuilder at the U.S. Navy’s Bath Iron Works, tearfully pleaded for changes in the system, expressing the heartbreak of her 2-year-old daughter asking for her daddy. Sloat’s emotional plea resonated with the entire nation as she questioned the accountability of politicians, law enforcement, and every registered voter.

The commission aims to complete its work within six months, armed with subpoena power to ensure a thorough investigation. As the families of the victims continue to grapple with their unimaginable losses, their voices serve as a rallying cry for change, demanding a safer future for all.

 

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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