In an outpouring of grief and unity, more than a thousand people congregated at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston on Sunday night, with hundreds more outside, following Maine’s deadliest mass shooting. The vigil, marked by a collective mourning, was held days after a gunman claimed 18 lives in the city.
The crowd, in a solemn show of solidarity, raised their hands in American Sign Language, saying “I love you,” in tribute to the deaf community members lost in the tragedy. “Fear, anxiety, and trepidation will not dictate our present or our future,” asserted Rev. Todd Little, First United Pentecostal Church.
Two days prior, authorities discovered the body of suspected gunman Robert Card, 40, in a Lisbon Falls trailer. His death, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, adds complexity to the unfolding investigation. Card was also accused of wounding 13 people during his Wednesday night rampage.
Community leaders across faiths, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim representatives, addressed the congregation, emphasizing strength and unity. Maine’s deaf community leader Kevin Bohlin, through an interpreter, conveyed a message of collective healing and action.
Amidst mourning, there were calls for peace and unity from various religious leaders, urging the community to resist divisive narratives. Sunday’s church services across Lewiston reflected the community’s shaken state, with attendees expressing sorrow and resilience.
Authorities believe Card legally acquired the multiple firearms found during the manhunt. The investigation increasingly focuses on his mental health history. Card’s erratic behavior and discussions about hearing voices were previously noted by family members, officials reported.
The lifting of the lockdown imposed during the search for Card marked a tentative step towards normalcy for Lewiston residents. However, reminders of the tragedy persisted, with Schemengees Bar & Grille, one of the shooting sites, undergoing cleanup.
The incident, unprecedented in Maine’s history, left three critically injured at Central Maine Medical Center, with one stable and another transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.
As the 36th mass killing in the U.S. this year, according to a database by AP, USA Today, and Northeastern University, the Lewiston shootings have reignited discussions on gun control and mental health.
Questions loom regarding Card’s interactions with law enforcement and missed warning signs. His mental health evaluation last summer and threats against a military base were noted, but no concrete actions followed. Attempts to purchase a silencer, denied due to his mental health history, highlight potential red flags.
Gov. Janet Mills addressed the need for revisiting Maine’s gun control laws, advocating for a collaborative approach towards change.