The 18 people who were killed in Lewiston on Oct. 25 will forever be associated with the worst mass shooting in Maine history. But they had rich lives worth remembering apart from that terrible night – as mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, grandparents and in one case a high school student.

And they had plans. Aaron Young, 14, was starting to get really good at bowling. Steve Vozzella was about to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. Maxx Hathaway had just gotten his college diploma in the mail and couldn’t wait for the arrival of his third daughter, due in December. Tricia Asselin had so many more people she wanted to help.

Our reporters have worked since the shootings to find out as much as they could about the lives that ended so abruptly that night. Here are their stories:


Tricia Asselin gave the best hugs, said her older sister, Bobbi Nichols.

“She hugged everybody, and they hugged her. If they didn’t come to her, she would go to them,” Nichols said.

Tricia Asselin Photo courtesy of Bobbi Nichols

Tricia worked part time at Just-in-Time Recreation, though she was at the bowling alley just for fun on the night of Oct. 25. Her sister, who was with her, said Tricia died trying to call 911 as others ran for their lives.

“She was a good person. It’s like, why her?” asked Nichols, of Auburn.

Tricia, who was 53, grew up in Auburn and Bowdoin, the second youngest of four children. She had two brothers, Jason and Mark Johnson, and is also survived by her mother, Alicia Lachance, and her son, Brandon Asselin.

She saw her son as her greatest achievement, her family wrote in her obituary.

Tricia grew up playing basketball, softball and baseball. She golfed and fished competitively. She enjoyed watching the Boston Bruins and Red Sox and playing trivia at sports bars, her sister said.

“She always was a sports girl, even from a young age,” Nichols said. “She loved sports and watched sports all the time.”

Tricia also was always busy. She worked three jobs: full time at Modula Inc. in Lewiston and part time at the bowling alley and the Apple Valley Golf Course.

“She would often tell you ‘sleep is overrated,’ and would rather spend her time doing the hobbies she enjoyed or working one of her many jobs,” the family said in her obituary.

Chad Hopkins, who was both Tricia’s friend and her boss for eight years at the golf course, said she was “a helper first and foremost,” always willing to jump in. “She just never stood still,” Hopkins said.

Tricia was always doing for others, her family said in the obituary. And she didn’t seek accolades.

“While we could go on and on about the type of person Trish was, she would tell us to keep it short and sweet as she never wanted the attention on her, so that is what we will do,” they wrote.

Sarah Proulx, a friend, described Tricia as “not like your average girl,” and said she raised thousands of dollars for research on breast cancer.

“She had the biggest heart I’ve ever met,” Proulx said.

She loved to organize leagues and tournaments at the golf course and at the bowling alley, said her sister. The night Tricia was killed, she had called Nichols up to sub for a player in the bowling league.

“It was a long night,” said Nichols, who made it out alive.

Tricia was never one for conflict, she said.

“My sister was the rock of the family. She was always a zero-drama girl. Whenever my brothers and I weren’t getting along, she was the person who would say, ‘It’s not worth it,’ and ‘Everything will be fine.’ She was always that way. Zero drama.”

– Rachel Ohm (Press Herald) and Steve Collins (Sun Journal)


Billy Brackett deeply loved his wife, Kristina, and his daughter, Sandra, who is 2 1/2 years old. He was so happy about the family they’d created, said his brother-in-law Brian Smith.

“He was a very kind, gentle soul,” Smith said. “He didn’t speak very well because of his hearing loss, so he didn’t say much. A lot of people called him a silent giant.”

Billy Brackett with his daughter, Sandra, and wife, Kristina. Photo courtesy of Kristen Smith

Billy, who was 48, was an avid darts and cornhole player. He was at Schemengees Bar & Grille on Wednesday night, as he often was, for a cornhole tournament, Smith said.

He was one of four people from Maine’s tight-knit Deaf community who were killed at Schemengees.

“Our community is grieving deeply,” Karen Hopkins, executive director of the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, wrote on Facebook.

Billy and Kristina Brackett met through mutual friends in the Deaf community, and she quickly became his biggest supporter at tournaments, Smith said. They married in August 2020.

Billy also enjoyed hunting and fishing.

He worked part time for UPS and FedEx.

Billy’s wife is devastated, said Smith, though Sandra is so young.

“Sandra doesn’t fully understand what has happened because she is also deaf,” he said.

Family members and friends are supporting them through this difficult time, Smith said. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help pay not just for funeral costs, but for hearing aids and other equipment for Sandra and for her future education.

“Both Billy and Kristina are low income and their daughter has significant needs,” Smith said. “Nobody expects to lose their spouse like this.”

– Kelley Bouchard (Press Herald)


Last July, Peyton Brewer-Ross texted a video to friends. He was walking down the street in sunglasses, his long hair in a ponytail. His daughter, Elle, was strapped to his chest, her floppy sun hat and tiny legs bouncing with his steps.

“I love being a dad,” Peyton said. Elle is 2.

Peyton Brewer Ross with his daughter, Elle. Photo courtesy of Nancy Lowell-Cunningham

Peyton, 40, of Bath, was killed while playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant in Lewiston.

He was a Bath Iron Works pipefitter, a wrestler and a superfan of Superman.

Peyton was the life of the party, friends and family said. He loved to wear his Randy “Macho Man” Savage jacket, complete with cheetah print, red and yellow fringe. He’s pictured wearing the jacket playing cornhole, boating and cradling newborn Elle in the hospital. He asked his fiancee if he could wear it at their wedding.

“That was a nonstarter,” his brother Ralph Wellman Brewer said, laughing.

Whether it was in the jacket, a Pabst Blue Ribbon cowboy hat (his initials were PBR), or playing golf in a pair of jeans, bare chest and bright red suspenders, Peyton was always unapologetically himself.

“He likes everybody. He gets along with everybody, and everybody likes him. He doesn’t have an enemy in the world,” Brewer said. “He’s there to have a good time.”

His longtime friend Kegan Hathaway said he and Peyton enjoyed making mischief.

They took a fine arts elective in college, aiming for an easy credit.

“Within 10 minutes of our first class, the teacher separated us to opposite sides of the room,” Hathaway wrote on social media. “Yes, in college.”

When their friends started settling down, they weren’t quite ready, Hathaway said. But Peyton got there.

“After Elle was born, he became a changed man,” Hathaway said.

When they found out they were having a daughter, Peyton told his friends, “I’m gonna make sure I give her my best and help her grow up to be a good woman.”

Elle “is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, a total daddy’s girl,” Brewer said. “How do you tell a 2-year-old that he’s not coming back? It’s not something we should have to do.”

His family is collecting the recent stories about Peyton to keep in a box for Elle to read when she’s older, so she can see all the people who loved him.

“They used to play a game when she would get ready for bed … and we’d stand at the top of the stairs and call down to him and say ‘Daddy, where are you?’ ” his fiancee, Rachael Sloat, told People. “… And she’s calling for him and he’s not popping out and she doesn’t understand why.”

Wayne Benwell Jr., a close childhood friend, said Peyton could be a “ballbuster” but was always ready to lend a helping hand. “If this happened to any one of us, he’d be beside himself with grief. He was sensitive like that,” he said.

Peyton had a core group of friends from high school, and they talked nearly every day. He frequently told them he loved them.

“Life is way to short (sic) and we should spend more of it with all of us,” he wrote in one text in February.

His sister, Nancy Lowell-Cunningham, of Boothbay, said she and her brother tried to live by the idea that today is given, tomorrow is unknown, so you should let the ones you love know that you love them.

Sometimes, the two would argue and one would hang up on the other. But Peyton would call back within 10 minutes, just to make sure she knew he still loved her.

“His hugs, oh, my gosh, his hugs. He knew how to hug and hold on to you and make you feel secure,” his sister said.

Peyton was born and raised in Rangeley, the baby of six kids: four brothers from his dad’s side and a brother and sister from his mom’s. The family moved to Auburn when he was 4 and later to Westbrook, where he graduated from high school.

As a young adult he worked different jobs – driving a bread truck, moving furniture, “you name it, he’s probably done it,” his brother said. At 19, he moved to Bath.

He met Rachael at a Sea Dogs game in 2008 and was instantly smitten.

Elle and Rachael were his entire world, his sister said.

After this cornhole season was over, he was planning to leave the league so he could spend Wednesday nights with his family and not miss a moment.

Peyton was a natural storyteller. He might tell the same story 20 or 100 times, but it would be just as funny every time.

“He had great delivery, and it was just effortless,” Brewer said. “He got that from my dad.”

Storytelling has been a comfort to Peyton’s loved ones since his death. They’ve retold some Peyton classics, though most are not fit for print, said Brewer, and nobody can do them justice.

He loved baseball and football. He loved Star Wars and comic books. He had Superman T-shirts, figurines, a full arm sleeve of Superman tattoos.

And he loved playing cornhole. He spent evenings in the yard, teaching Elle to play, even if she was only 2.

Five years ago, Peyton started a Bath Iron Works pipefitter apprentice program through the Maine Maritime Academy.

While he was in it, his mother died. “He made a promise to Mom that he would finish,” his sister said. “He graduated with exceptional grades.”

Devin Ragnar, a spokesperson for Local S6, said he and Peyton went through the rigorous four-year apprenticeship program studying together and supporting each other.

“When you were talking to Peyton, he was listening,” Ragnar said. “He was caring, compassionate and really funny.”

He was excited about what was to come, his sister said.

He planned to continue his education. He and Rachael were planning to buy a home.

“He was making all the right steps for their future,” she said.

– Hannah LaClaire and Bonnie Washuk (Press Herald)


As a young boy, Tom Conrad was known to friends and family as a charming rascal. He could make his young cousins laugh while terrorizing them during summer visits. He could borrow a pal’s car and wreck it without leaving the driveway or losing the friendship.

He had what his dad, Tim, calls the Conrad charm.

Thomas Conrad Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

“Thomas had a different way of doing business, folks,” Tim Conrad said on Saturday during his eulogy.

When his father went left, Tom would go right. Tim was in the U.S. Navy, so Tom joined the Army, serving as a combat engineer who cleared minefields in northern Iraq. Tim said he worried about Tom’s dangerous assignments, worried about the call that might come.

Before deploying to Iraq, he talked to his son about his final wishes should he not come back. Tom made him promise he’d play the George Thorogood song “Bad to the Bone” at his funeral. On Saturday, Tim Conrad led those gathered at Community Baptist Church in reciting the first verse.

The most important thing to know about Tom, friends and family said, was how much he loved his 9-year-old daughter, Caroline. He’d moved back to Maine recently and taken a job at Just-In-Time Recreation earlier this year just to be closer to her.

There, he paid special attention to the young bowlers, among whom he was famous for making excellent nachos. He had been planning a Halloween pumpkin-carving competition for younger bowlers. The memorial display in front of the alley is filled with pumpkins as a result.

“He was great with all of the bowling community kids,” said his bowling friend Adam Stoddard. “They all loved him. He loved them so much he put his life in harm’s way to charge the gunman and save the children who were there. He died a hero.”

Stoddard remembered Conrad buying him a beer on his 21st birthday and the times that Conrad would invite him to stay after closing time to swap service stories, listen to Eminem and bowl a few after-hours frames. Sometimes Caroline would be there, playing Minecraft.

“He’d say, ‘Yo, I’m kicking everyone out because of hours, but we are good to stay and shut the place down,’ ” Stoddard said. “We’d all be having a good time listening to music. Thomas really knew how to make you feel like one of the boys.”

Tom took up bowling in 2001, playing for a team on the local submarine base. He received an award for most improved bowler at the end of the season, beginning a lifelong love affair with the sport, his father said.

Conrad’s military service and his love for kids led him to make the ultimate sacrifice. A bowler who was there on Oct. 25, Janet Gabri, told The Boston Globe that Tom rushed the gunman who walked in firing and gave patrons, including her own children, time to run for cover.

“I want the world to know that my son went out a hero,” said Tim Conrad, fighting back tears at Tom’s funeral. “He did what he thought was right. Tough call. You will hear the word hero used a lot today. And right now is no exception. We are gathered here tonight to celebrate a hero.”

Caroline’s mom, Dottie West, described Tom as “the exact person you’d want in an emergency. Any chance he could jump into action, he did. What he did on the night of Oct. 25 perfectly exemplifies his character at its core.”

At the funeral, Tim and Caroline both received flags in honor of Tom’s Army service. After two officers presented the flags, Tom’s father and daughter fist-bumped across the aisle. The funeral was full of children, including some who had been at the bowling alley on the night of the shooting.

The family plans to spread Tom’s ashes at his favorite place in the world, Mount Rainier, and to plant a magnolia tree outside Just-In-Time Recreation when it eventually reopens. Tim Conrad said Lewiston needs to reclaim the bowling alley as the fun place Tom knew it to be.

– Penelope Overton (Press Herald)


Michael Deslauriers II was relentlessly sarcastic.

He never missed the opportunity to crack a joke, often at his audience’s expense, and he could make a whole room roar with laughter.

Michael Deslauriers Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

“If Mike was in the room, you were laughing,” friends and family wrote in his obituary.

Mike, 51, was known by loved ones as Mikey. He kept a close circle.

He often called his partner, Stacy Cyr (Moyer) his “person,” “mostly because she was one of the few people who could tolerate his relentless sarcasm,” his obituary said.

His two children, Keagan and Abriana, were his “proudest accomplishments,” his obituary said: “You could always find Mike at a hockey arena, archery range or soccer field, supporting and cheering on his kids.”

Mike, who according to the obituary had a brain full of “useless knowledge,” had many interests including trivia, cribbage and cornhole. He loved golf, fishing and all of Boston’s sports teams. He had recently taken up bowling.

He often joked that he only had one friend – a lifelong one, Jason Walker. He and Jason both were killed Oct. 25 at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley.

Mike and Jason made sure their wives and the young children at the bowling alley were safe and then charged the shooter, Mike’s father, Michael Deslauriers Sr., said in a Facebook post.

His son’s death, Deslauriers Sr. said, is “the hardest news for a father to ever have to share.”

Facebook tributes flooded in.

Alan Johnson, a friend and colleague of Mike’s, said the two men made the ultimate sacrifice and were the embodiment of heroes.

Vicki Deslauriers Roy, one of Mike’s sisters, said her brother’s loss leaves a gaping hole in their family.

“I was not the least bit surprised to hear that he and his best friend since kindergarten lost their lives trying to protect others. I take comfort in knowing that they went together,” she wrote. “We’ve all seen the posts during times like these to tell us to keep our loved ones close – please make sure you do. What I wouldn’t give to turn back time and leave work early to make a tee time with him when he asked me last week.”

Another sister, Amy Deslauriers, wrote of keeping her brother’s memory alive as an amazing partner, father, son and brother.

Mike, 51, lived in Sabattus and worked as a network engineer at St. Mary’s Hospital/Covenant Health for 30 years. Most recently, he did that work for W.G. Tech in Westbrook.

Adrienne Decoteau, a former co-worker at St. Mary’s, wrote that “he had a dry sense of humor that made you scratch your head after, wondering if he just told you off and how to get there.”

Madi Herr, Mike’s niece, said her uncle was the best dad and the best person anyone could be lucky enough to meet.

“He would do anything for anyone, and he did,” she said. “It isn’t fair that life took one of the most genuine humans so soon.”

His family asked that friends and loved ones, in honor of Mike, “share a beer with someone you haven’t seen in a while, perform a random act of kindness or make someone laugh or smile. Mike would like that.”

– Hannah LaClaire (Press Herald)


Maxx Hathaway had two daughters, one 11, one 19 months old. His wife is pregnant with their third, due in December.

She and their youngest were at Schemengees Bar & Grille with him on Oct. 25, but Brenda went home with their toddler while he stayed behind to play pool.

Maxx Hathaway Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

Pool was a passion of Maxx’s. He also loved anime and gaming, sister Kelsay Hathaway wrote in a GoFundMe page to help support his wife and children.

“He was a goofy, down to earth person, loved to joke around and always had an uplifting attitude no matter what was going on,” his sister wrote.

Maxx didn’t mind being the only male in his young family, his obituary said: “He was proud to sport a shirt that proclaimed, ‘You don’t scare me. I have three daughters and a wife.’ ”

Nichole Crowley grew up across the street from a young Maxx and had known him since he was 7, she posted on Facebook.

“You lived across the street from us and you practically lived in our home,” she wrote. “I remember play fighting with swords, jumping on the trampoline, playing hide and seek in the dark, and the list goes on and on.”

She said her father had become an ordained minister to marry Maxx and his wife.

“He was so proud of  you and the man you turned out to be,” Crowley wrote. “He told me how much he loved watching you grow into your role as a father and loving husband. He spoke about you and your beautiful family often.”

Maxx, who was 35, had recently been a stay-at-home dad while he worked to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance, his family said in a statement. He got his diploma from the University of Southern Maine in the mail on the day of the shooting, they said.

– Penelope Overton (Press Herald)


Tony Randazzo remembers a great childhood with his stepbrother, Bryan Macfarlane, when Tony’s father married Bryan’s mother.

They couldn’t communicate with words – Tony did not sign and Bryan did not read lips – but the 14-year-old and 9-year-old found other ways to have fun.

Bryan MacFarlane. Photo courtesy of Keri Brooks

“We communicated by going on bike rides together through Baxter Woods and Evergreen Cemetery and a bunch of spots in Portland,” Randazzo said. “He actually taught me how to play Monopoly of all things. Even though I was a little older, I did not know how to play.”

After opening his Friday night radio show on WCLZ-FM with The Beatles’ “As My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the radio host launched into a five-hour tribute to Bryan. His family started a GoFundMe to help pay for burial costs and start a scholarship for a deaf student in Maine in Bryan’s name.

Bryan was at a cornhole tournament at Schemengees Bar & Grille when he and three members of his team, American Deaf Cornhole, were shot and killed Oct. 25, said his older sister, Keri Brooks, of Florida.

She started receiving condolence messages the next day from people all over the country who knew her brother, either from cornhole tournaments, tractor racing or the small, tight Deaf community with whom he loved to socialize.

Nine deaf people were playing cornhole at the weekly tournament, Brooks said. She knew two of her brother’s slain teammates, too. Like many of the community, they knew each other through the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf.

Brooks learned from her best friend, who lives in Maine, that her brother was likely dead. A few hours later, police showed up at her mother’s house and confirmed it, she said.

Bryan, 41, had only recently returned to Maine after stints in Vermont, Ohio and North Carolina. He wanted be near their mother, who lives in Lewiston. But they grew up in the greater Portland area, Brooks said.

He loved riding his motorcycle, camping, fishing, hanging out with deaf friends and his dog, M&M (named after his favorite candy), who regularly joined him in his travels as a commercial trucker, his sister said.

“His greatest life achievement is obtaining his Class D trucking license,” she said by text. “He was the first Deaf person to do so in Vermont, one of the very few Deaf people nationwide to obtain such a license.”

On her Facebook page, his sister thanked people for their support and said, “Life is too short. Hug your loved ones and say ILY as often as possible.”

– Penelope Overton (Press Herald)


Keith Macneir was just a few years into retirement and enjoying life – boating, fishing and biking in his home state of Florida and spending time with his son, Breslin, whenever he got the chance.

Keith had just turned 64 and had come to Maine at the end of October to visit Breslin.

Keith Macneir with his son, Breslin Macneir Photo courtesy of Brian Macneir

“He grabbed a big bag of fresh stone crabs off the boat from the west coast of Florida, got on a plane and flew up to Maine, and they had a nice birthday,” said Keith’s brother, Brian Macneir.

On Oct. 25, Breslin and Keith headed to Schemengees Bar & Grill. Breslin had to go to a union meeting for work, so he left his dad at the restaurant and planned to come back.

“He was like, ‘We’ll go here, and I’ll go to my meeting and come back. You can meet some of the guys I’m working with,’ ” Brian Macneir said. “That’s when the episode happened. And then Breslin sat in the hospital for numerous hours before they would tell him anything.”

Keith grew up in the Rio Vista area of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the oldest of three boys. He followed in his father’s footsteps, working as an architect before taking a job with the National Park Service in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moving to St. John.

Keith worked for the U.S. National Park Service Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument for about 10 years, retiring in the fall of 2020 as a supervisory facilities and operations specialist, a spokesperson for the park confirmed.

Kelly Larkin, a friend in St. John, said that when she first moved there, Keith “welcomed me into his home with open arms, before he even knew anything about me.”

“Keith was just one of those special people that let everyone in & always made you feel welcome, no matter what,” Larkin said in a Facebook message.

Brian Macneir said Keith and Breslin, who lives in the Lewiston area, were very close and typically spent birthdays and holidays together.

“They would spend quality time doing a lot of different stuff,” Brian Macneir said. “Breslin would take him around and show him the area up there – the beautiful rivers and streams, the wooded areas. They just had a great time.”

“He’s going to be missed by hundreds of people,” Keith’s brother said. “He had a great personality and smile. He was open with everybody.”

Rachel Ohm (Press Herald)


Ron Morin, 55, was a sweet, funny man who enjoyed sports and loved to tell jokes.

Chad Hopkins, owner of the Apple Valley Golf Course in Lewiston, said Ron had been a good friend for three decades. He described him as a “jack of all trades” who was always smiling. Ron played hockey and softball and was a great father, Hopkins said.

Ronald Morin Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

Janet Cassidy, another friend, said she was one of many people who enjoyed Ron’s “bad dad jokes.”

“If you were a friend of his on Facebook, you woke up every morning wondering what bad dad jokes he was going to be posting,” she said. “He wanted to pick people up if they were down. He was supportive.”

On Oct. 24, the day before he was killed, he asked his friends on Facebook why men go to bars to find women. “Go to Target,” he wrote. “The female to male ratio is 10 to 1. And they’re already looking for things they don’t need.”

Ron was born in Lewiston, graduated from Lewiston High School in 1986 and had worked for Coca-Cola since 1989. He was a sales merchandiser in South Portland, according to a Facebook post by Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast.

He and his wife, Lynn, had two children, Amy and Eric, who are grown and live in Charleston, South Carolina. “His wife, children and dog Remy were his entire world,” his obituary said.

Ron was looking forward to retirement so he could relocate and be closer to his kids, according to his obituary.

“Those who knew Ron would acknowledge his keen sense of humor and ability to make everyone feel loved and seen,” the obituary said. “He had a passion for making others laugh.”

Outside of work and spending time with his family, Ron liked to play ice and floor hockey, softball and cornhole, and to umpire softball games.

Cassidy, who got to know Ron through the cornhole league at Schemengees, said he mentored kids there who wanted to learn the game.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry,” Cassidy said. “Maybe one time, and it was just someone being derogatory towards someone else. … He had an infectious smile and laugh. It’s going to be missed.”

Tanya Morissette, Ron’s sister, wrote on a GoFundMe page for his family that the mass shooting has been devastating for them. “Ron (Ronnie) Morin had such an infectious personality,” Morissette wrote.

“He was an incredible husband, father, brother, uncle, son and friend. To know Ron was to instantly love him. He was a man who always put others before himself and looked for the humor and positivity in even the most tragic circumstances.”

– Rachel Ohm (Press Herald) and Steve Collins (Sun Journal)


Josh Seal will always be remembered as the man in the televised COVID-19 briefings who used American Sign Language to share the sobering details of the pandemic with Maine’s Deaf community.

But friends and family knew what Josh cared about the most: deaf kids. His four children, aged 3 to 12; the ones he had taught at Governor Baxter School for the Deaf; and the ones he was helping by founding Maine’s first summer camp for deaf youth.

Josh Seal with his wife, Liz, and their four children. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Seal

The man who hated costumes even dressed up as Santa so kids could ask for presents in ASL.

“Fostering opportunity for them, showing them they could do more, that was his passion,” said his wife, Liz. “His job didn’t matter as long as it let him help deaf kids. Josh thought a lot about the future of the Deaf community and he knew it came from the children.”

His job as the director of interpreting service at Pine Tree Society, a nonprofit that services Mainers with disabilities, allowed him to found Dirigo Experience summer camp. Until its launch, Maine’s deaf children were forced to attend summer camp in Vermont or Connecticut.

His boss, Noel Sullivan, said Josh’s death left an enormous hole in Maine’s Deaf community. “He was committed to breaking the cycle of isolation and creating safe space for Deaf people,” Sullivan said.

He had been at his job at Pine Tree Society for less than a month when he was tapped to interpret the COVID briefings of Nirav Shah, then director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He was nervous that he’d misspell when reeling off Shah’s rapid-fire county-by-county statistics.

“I marveled at his ability to interpret what we were saying at light speed – even my (awful) attempts at humor during dark days,” Shah said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “He never missed a beat. He will be forever missed and always remembered as a part of Maine’s history.”

The 36-year-old Portland native met his wife when they were in preschool. On their play dates, he was the mischievous goofball and she the tomboy. She missed him after they were sent to different public schools – she thought his habit of filling his pant pockets with dirt was hilarious.

They would meet again in high school through a mutual friend who connected them online. They headed off to Texas for college but decided to come home to Maine when she was pregnant with their first child, Jayson. Three more – Sephine, Jarrod and Jaxton – would follow.

Josh loved sports and rooted for all the Boston teams, but football and his beloved Patriots got top billing. The family, all of whom are deaf, has little use for TV, but Josh insisted on paying for a cable subscription just so he could watch games in real time.

He played sports, too. He was on a deaf basketball team, but his real passion was disc golf, Liz said. He was a regular at three area courses and liked to play in tournaments across New England, often bringing the family along.

They loved to travel together and had gone on three eight-week road trips since 2015 – along the East Coast, to the Southwest, into Canada. He loved the wild, rocky beaches at Olympic National Park and the river-carved canyons of Zion National Park.

On their first cross-country trip, Josh agreed to take a young girl in his oldest son’s school class along with them. It was tight quarters, but the girl, who didn’t have much sign language, needed more real-life experiences. When they returned eight weeks later, her vocabulary had exploded.

“Josh just couldn’t say no to a kid,” Liz said. “I was like, ‘Should we do this?’ Josh was like, ‘Yup!’ ”

– Penelope Overton (Press Herald)


When Artie Strout was 2 years old, he toddled over to his father’s guitar, balanced it precariously on his lap, and started picking at the strings and babbling.

His father, Arthur Barnard, felt overcome with love for his eldest son at that moment.

Artie Strout and his wife, Kristy, at their wedding. Photo courtesy of Kristy Strout

Now, he thinks of that toddler babble and the lyrics of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Simple Man,” about a man’s wishes for his son when he grows up:

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast/ Troubles will come and they will pass/ You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love …”

Barnard says the lyrics mirror what he wished for Artie in that moment as he watched his son’s little fingers pluck at the nylon strings.

Those wishes for Artie 40 years ago came to pass, he said. Barnard was proud of his son.

Artie’s parents separated when he was very young, and both went on to have other kids. Artie has 10 surviving brothers and sisters.

He met his wife, Kristy Strout, 16 years ago. He was confident and charming, she said.

“Oh, he thought he had it in the bag before he had it in the bag,” Strout said, laughing at his courtship. “I don’t think I’ll ever feel that amount of love that I felt for him again.”

They both had difficult childhoods and wanted to build a happy and stable life for their blended family of five kids: Marcus, Milo, Summer, Logan and Brianna. And they did.

Artie, who was 42, was always there for the kids. He would wrestle with them and tease them. He drove them to school each day. His presence in their Auburn home was palpable. He had a goofy and infectious laugh that sounded like a giggle from deep in his belly.

“He had the dorkiest laugh that got everyone laughing,” said his friend Maria Wilson. “Like even if you didn’t want to laugh, you would laugh when he did.”

Artie was a Christmas person. Sometimes as early as Halloween, he would get all his kids together, clean the house, put on Christmas music and put up a tree in the living room. He’d fix the branches so they sat just right. Then Kristy and the kids would wrap the tree in tinsel and lights. If it wasn’t perfect, he’d go back to make sure it was, that it looked like a picture in a magazine, his wife said.

Artie fixed computers and worked on cars, but after back surgery a few years ago, he went part time and stayed home with the kids while Kristy worked.

“He always took care of me and the kids, and he just spoiled the kids rotten,” she said.

He also went out of his way to help other families. He’d drive the kids of family friends to school and make sure they had enough food in the house.

Artie was passionate about pool and played in a competitive league. He was at Schemengees Bar & Grille on the night of Oct. 25, practicing for an upcoming game.

He relished the simple things in life: his family, holidays, a good game of pool.

And he was steady, his family said. He could always make you laugh. He showed up. He said “I love you” often.

“We built a life, and we worked hard to build this life,” said his wife. “Now half of it is crumbled.”

– Grace Benninghoff (Press Herald)


Bob and Lucy Violette were always together. Bob drove her to work every day. Lucy went with Bob to watch him coach youth bowling on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“They weren’t just married for 48 years, they were deeply in love for that time,” said Cassandra Violette, their daughter-in-law.

Bob and Lucy Violette celebrate a wedding anniversary. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Violette

Bob and Lucy met about 50 years ago in the offices of the Lewiston School Department. Lucy worked as a secretary there, and Bob had come in to do some maintenance work.

“It was a lovestruck-right-from-the get-go thing,” said Cassandra.

On their first date, Lucy made spaghetti. “Bob said it was the worst spaghetti he ever had,” Cassandra said, laughing. Not long after, Lucy proposed.

“That was always the story. She knew how special he was and couldn’t let him go,” Cassandra said.

Bob was equally smitten. He was a doting husband who set timers on his phone to make sure his wife never missed her medication. He cooked her dinner every night when she came home from work.

“His first thought every day was her,” his daughter-in-law said.

Although she tried, Lucy was never much of a cook, but she was an excellent baker. Her apple pie and coffee cake were famous in her family.

Bob and Lucy had three sons, Andrew, Tom and John, and six grandkids.

Lucy, 73, came from a tight-knit family in Fryeburg. She and her sister used to go swimming most days in a pond near their house growing up. She went to Fryeburg Academy for college and then on to the Lewiston School Department, which she knew like the back of her hand.

“She was so knowledgeable, and she had incredible connections with the people there,” said Cassandra, who has been speaking for the family. “Her friends in the office all knew everything about each other. They were very close.”

Lucy had a knack for getting along with kids and animals. Even when she was relaxing after a long day, she made sure her grandkids felt included and loved. She’d sit on the couch playing Wordle or Candy Crush on her phone and call her young grandkids over to take a turn or help her come up with a word. She always took the time to sit and talk one on one with them. And when they misbehaved or made a mistake, she would say, “That’s all right. He’s (or she’s) a keeper.’ ”

When her son John and Cassandra adopted a dog, Ruger, who was afraid of people, Lucy was determined to win him over, especially once he took to Bob. She campaigned for Ruger’s trust. For months, she would sit near him on the couch and talk to him, and at one point she was walking him four to five times a day to build their bond. At work, Cassandra said, Lucy updated her friends on where they stood – that they’d started to make eye contact, that she’d walked him around the block. She was determined.

Bob, 76, was a retired Sears mechanic and avid bowler. He was born and raised in Lewiston, where he grew up speaking French and attending Catholic church.

After high school he spent years in the Navy before working as a truck driver all over the country and eventually moving back to Maine.

Bob was gregarious and lively.

“He wouldn’t let you walk out the door without giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek,” said Cassandra.

Lucy was Bob’s foil. She was a calm and gentle soul who never raised her voice. When Bob would make a joke, she would often laugh, shake her head, and say, “Oh, Bob.”  Sometimes, friends said, they thought Bob would make jokes just to see her reaction.

Bob was the kind of guy who thought deeply about things. No decision was too small to weigh carefully – even what brand of kitchenware to buy. “He would research until you couldn’t research anymore,” his daughter-in-law said. “We used to make fun of him because he would go online and research a crockpot for like three weeks before he’d buy it.”

He also carefully researched the iPads and iPhones he bought to bring to his youth bowling league. He wanted to get good videos of the kids’ form to help them improve. He helped start the youth bowling league at the bowling alley years ago. He and Lucy had bowled together in a couples’ league and separately in men’s and women’s leagues for some time, but he wanted to get more young people involved. He trained to get certified as a coach.

The youth league played on Saturday, but Bob set aside Wednesday nights for extra practice. Each Wednesday, he would rent out a few lanes and stay all evening, with Lucy by his side, to coach any kids who showed up.

When the shooter entered Just-in-Time Recreation on Oct. 25, witnesses say, Bob stepped in front of the kids he was coaching to protect them. He died at the scene, and Lucy died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“They were just the best people. They were kind. The more difficult you were, the more effort they’d put in,” their daughter-in-law said. “They just loved everyone.”

– Grace Benninghoff (Press Herald)


Steve Vozzella was a competitive bowler for well over a decade.

He had won tournaments and had several trophies to prove it.

Steve Vozzella and his wife, Megan. Photo courtesy of Maine AFL-CIO

But about six years ago, Steve retired from bowling.

When he and his wife, Megan, moved to Maine from Massachusetts, he decided to try something new. He thought cornhole sounded fun.

“He really enjoyed it because it was something different,” his wife told The Daily Moth, a news outlet reporting on the Deaf community in American Sign Language. “He had bowled for so many years that he got tired of it. He wanted something different. I told him to help himself. Enjoy things because life is short. He agreed that life is short.”

Steve, 45, was killed while playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengee’s Bar and Grille on Oct. 25. He was one of four members of Maine’s Deaf community who died in the shooting.

A father of two, Steve was preparing to celebrate his first wedding anniversary next month. He and his wife had been together for 14 years and lived in South Paris.

“Now I’ve lost my soulmate, my husband. It really hurts,” Megan told The Daily Moth. “My husband was the best soul I ever had in my lifetime.”

Steve was an active member of New England Deaf Cornhole.

He had won several games and was eager to play more, the group said in a Facebook post, mentioning his huge smile and excitement for the game.

“He will be missed on and off the courts! NEDC will not be the same without Steve Vozzella playing with us!”

Members of the Greater Boston Deaf Bowling League hosted a vigil at Town Line Luxury Lanes, where Steve used to bowl when he lived in the area.

Michael DuRoss, vice president of the bowling league, said in a social media post that Steve’s death was a loss to the Deaf communities in Boston, Maine and all of New England.

“Steve, when (it’s) thundering here in Boston, please bowl with friends in heaven,” he wrote. “Show them (you’re) a better bowler and get us a 300 perfect game, brother.”

Megan Vozzella said Steve was very involved in the Deaf community.

“Many in the Deaf community knew him and knew us,” she said. “They watched our humor because we would do pranks and egg each other on.”

The Vozzellas were close friends with Elizabeth and Joshua Seal. Josh, a well-known interpreter, was also killed at Schemengee’s.

Liz Seal recalled many happy outings she and her husband had with the Vozzellas. They would go to Patriots games, ride snowmobiles or camp out.

They would even take cornhole boards with them on their camping trips, Liz said. While the sport could be pretty competitive, the Wednesday night game was about camaraderie.

“It was an excuse for the guys to hang out together, really,” Liz said. “They’d let off steam, take some time away from home and work just for themselves, with people like them. I’m sure they were having fun before everything went wrong.”

Now, the two women are grieving the hole left in their lives and the Deaf community.

“They took our lives away,” Steve’s wife said. “How much more do we have to suffer? How much more of this can we take? Why did it happen?”

Friends and a former coach said on Facebook that Steve was a “class act” and a former student athlete who enjoyed baseball and basketball. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years.

Brian Renfroe, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement that he was heartbroken to learn that Steve, a member of the Lewiston branch, had died.

“He had much more life to live before it was stolen from him in an all-too-common senseless act of gun violence,” Renfroe said.

– Hannah LaClaire (Press Herald)


Jason Walker was a learner.

Walker, 51, worked in the building trades, but he dabbled in a little bit of everything.

Jason Walker Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

He enjoyed vegetable gardening, preserving seeds, sausage-making, baking bread and creating educational YouTube videos, his family said in his obituary.

He researched religion, vehicle repair and building. He sang and played guitar. He helped the Sabattus Historical Society record and edit oral histories.

“Jason did some amazing work,” the historical society said in a post on its Facebook page. He helped the society capture the town’s history, lending his time and expertise.

And he loved bowling.

Walker, of Sabattus, was a league member at Just-in-Time Recreation, as was his lifelong best friend, Michael Deslauriers II.

Jason and Mike were both killed at the bowling alley.

Mike’s father, Michael Deslauriers Sr., who is also chair of the historical society, said in a social media post that the two men made sure their wives and the children at the bowling alley were safe and then charged the shooter.

People who knew Jason and Michael said the act wasn’t surprising.

“Jason was a selfless and giving friend and helped out others whether physically, spiritually, or financially, whenever needed,” his obituary said.

He was highly protective of his wife, Kathleen, and his two sons, Collin and Jonathan.

Kathleen Walker said on Facebook that she was sharing her husband’s obituary on what should have been their 26th wedding anniversary.

He will always be her hero, she said.

Justin Goudreau, a friend of Jason’s, said on social media that he cherished videos of Jason gardening and teaching one of his sons music, and that he was proud of the father Jason became.

“Your friends look up to you in so many ways,” he said. “We admire your strength, your passion and your love for learning new things.”

Goudreau compared Jason to “the most beautiful dog” that is sometimes hard to pet. He noted his compassion, his appreciation of the little things and his desire to bring people together.

“I saw you even when you thought I was not looking,” he said.

Jason was a Renaissance man, said Jay Trevorrow, who coached Jason in Lacrosse as a teen.

“I have been awed by the person he became over time,” Trevorrow wrote on Facebook. “More than anything else, his relentless curiosity is what I will remember about Jason.”

-Hannah LaClaire (Press Herald)


Joe Walker wasn’t just the manager of Schemengees Bar & Grille. The job was a passion.

“He loves it. That’s why he took the job,” said Walker’s father, Leroy Walker Sr. “He worked for another company and had a pretty good job but decided to go to work doing this because it’s what he liked to do. He’s into sports and knew he could make the place lively and bring in a lot of business.”

Joe Walker. Photo courtesy of Leroy Walker Sr.

Joe, 57, lived in Auburn with his wife, Tracey. He had worked at Schemengees for five or six years, his father said.

The restaurant and billiard hall would have certainly been busy on a Wednesday like Oct. 25, when a cornhole league was playing.

“The place is packed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday,” Joe’s father said. “My son had something going all the time. He had the place busy as hell.”

Joe’s Facebook page includes photos of him skydiving, attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and on his wedding day.

“For those of you who knew us from the start of our relationship this man changed my life for the better and would do anything for me his kids and grandchildren,” Tracey Walker wrote in a post.

He’d been involved in the community since his teenage years, when he played in softball leagues, and he brought cornhole tournaments to the area.

“He’s a great kid,” said his father, a city councilor in Auburn. “He’s always been great to people. He takes care of people. There’s nothing he won’t do for anybody.”

Leroy Walker said the day after the shooting that he had seen his son at breakfast earlier in the week at the Station Grill Restaurant, where Joe also worked. He said he tried calling his phone after getting word of the shooting Oct. 25, but had no luck getting through to him. “We’re all thinking the worst,” he said. And it was.

A police officer told the family that Joe died a hero, trying to take the shooter out with a butcher’s knife that was found next to his hand when first responders arrived.

“He’s just a great overall young man,” Leroy Walker said. “People love him. He loves people. If he was sitting here with me, he would just be so sorry about what has happened. A lot of his friends were killed in the same scene. Others were shot up. … It’s just a real tough thing. I know he would be just so sorry something like this happened.”

Rachel Ohm (Press Herald) and Joe Charpentier (Sun Journal)


Bill Young was the type of dad who would do anything for his son, so when Aaron decided to take up bowling as a hobby, Bill was all in.

“Aaron wanted to bowl, and Bill said, ‘Get in the car.’ He was a damn good dad,” said Rob Young, Bill’s brother. Three years later, Aaron had gotten really good, and Bill was so proud.

Aaron Young Photo courtesy of Department of Public Safety

“He texted me a photo a couple weeks ago, on Oct. 6, of Aaron getting a 275 while bowling – his highest score ever,” Young said. “I bowl a 120 or something and a 14-year-old bowled a 275. That’s what he liked to do, and he excelled. It made him happy.”

Bill, 44, and Aaron, 14, were killed Oct. 25 at Just-in-Time Recreation, where Aaron was in a youth bowling league.

When Rob Young first heard about the shootings in Lewiston, he got the first flight out of Maryland, where he lives, and flew to Maine, anticipating bad news.

“I know my brother well enough that he’s going towards the target,” Young said.

Because that’s the kind of person Bill was – he was always going to protect his son, even though Aaron was now 6-foot-4, a little taller than his father.

Aaron, 14, was a student at Winthrop High School and was the “nicest kid in the world,” his uncle said.

William Young Photo courtesy Department of Public Safety

His friends said he would sit with anyone at lunch, especially those who were sitting by themselves.

“He made school a more welcoming place,” ninth grader Sam Drown, a friend and classmate, said at Winthrop High School’s vigil on Wednesday.

Bill’s sister Wendy Bell said Aaron was “everything” to his mother, Cindy.

Aaron talked to Cindy about everything and loved spending time with his family. He planned to be an auto mechanic like his father.

When he wasn’t bowling, Aaron liked to ride bikes with his friends and fish.

In the few times a year Rob Young got to spend time with Aaron, they watched “Family Guy” and “Beavis and Butt-Head” together – “typical boy shows,” his uncle recalled.

“He was just a good kid,” said Young. “Taken way too early. Fourteen is way too early to lose your life. He had his whole future in front of him.”

At the vigil, Wendy Bell told those gathered about her brother Bill’s humor and his unique laugh that always made her smile. She said Bill had always been there for his family, especially their father, Bob Young, who kept a garden and worked on cars with Bill.

Cindy Young, who lost both her son and her husband in the shootings, said she will “never be the same” without her “best friend” and her “baby.”

With Bill, she said, she laughed every day – often about silly things. They would have fights with gummy worms or Nerf wars with their family and friends. Cindy called Bill the “backbone” of the family.

But Aaron, she said, will always be her baby.

Together, they listened to the Stone Temple Pilots and other ’90s music, and he told her whatever was on his mind, she said. She said Aaron was always tuned in with his friends and wanting the best for them.

But most of all, Cindy Young spoke about the bond Aaron had with his father.

“Bill was Aaron’s idol – he wanted to do everything like his dad,” she said.

– Emily Duggan (Kennebec Journal) 

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