From left, Chad Hopkins, survivor of the shooting at Just-In-Time Recreation; Father Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of the Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston; Sophia Bailey, co-owner of Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine food truck; the Rev. Debbie Duval, pastor of the High Street Congregational Church UCC in Auburn; Regan Thibodeau, Deaf interpreter for police press conferences; Katrina White, therapy dog handler for Safe Voices with Oliver, a therapy dog; Cpl. Elgin Physic of the Maine State Police; Colin O’Neill, chief clinical officer at Tri-County Mental Health Services in Lewiston; and Kristin Simoneau, nurse and team leader in the emergency department at Central Maine Medical Center. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald

Chad Hopkins heard a gunshot, turned his head and had a second or two to make a decision. His first instinct was to rush the gunman, who was fiddling with his rifle about 30 feet away. But the Air Force veteran didn’t think he’d have enough time before the gun was working again. So he turned to his mother and the other 40 or so members of his bowling league and yelled at the top of his lungs: “Shooter. Everyone out,” and pointed to an exit.

He and others at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston, some who didn’t make it out alive, acted with utter selflessness in response to the tragic Oct. 25 mass shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 more.

“I thought, the only thing I have time for is to try to save my mother and help people get out,” said Hopkins, 47, of Lewiston. “As we ran out, I was fully expecting to take a bullet in the back.”

Another bowler, Thomas Giberti, 69, of Auburn, was shot seven times while trying help children escape, and lived.

In the minutes, hours and days that followed, law enforcement officers risked their safety to try to locate the shooter, hospital staffers worked on overdrive to save the lives of those injured, counselors and clergy spent long days consoling the community, and many others stepped up to offer whatever they could in the face of unthinkable loss.

Nurse Kristin Simoneau was at home in the early evening with her three children when she found out about the shootings. Her husband, a police officer, was already on the scene. She had no relatives nearby, so she asked her children’s day care provider to watch them and headed to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. She’s a team leader in the emergency department, which was already over capacity before 14 shooting victims were brought in. Three would die.


Simoneau worked until about 1:30 a.m. helping to care for victims, then got a few hours sleep and was back to work at 7 a.m. She said her training and adrenaline helped her through it, as well as the skill of her co-workers, all dealing with a completely unprecedented emergency.

“Our charge nurse did an amazing job of moving people who weren’t critical to patient floors,” said Simoneau, 32, one of about 100 hospital staffers who were called in that night. “You just can’t practice for something like that.”

By about 9 p.m., Regan Thibodeau of Windham had found out that two members of Maine’s tight-knit Deaf community had died, shot playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees. She’d learn later that two others had died as well. She and other interpreters “dropped everything” and went to hospitals, witness centers, anywhere they might be needed. She and others worked to get information out to the Deaf community as events developed.

Thibodeau was later called in to interpret televised press conferences by police and state officials while the shooter was still believed to be at large. One of her friends killed in the shootings, Josh Seal, had been the interpreter for Maine Center for Disease Control press conferences during the pandemic.

“I knew Josh Seal, if he was not killed, would have been right there doing this job with me or in place of me for the exact same purpose — access for all of our family and friends in town, in Maine, and in the U.S.,” Thibodeau, 45, who is Deaf, wrote in an email. “I was thinking about their Deaf wives, their Deaf children, and their Deaf family. I knew all of them, and I wanted to be sure they could learn details at the same time as everyone else.”

Maine State Police Corporal Elgin Physic was off duty when he heard about what was happening from another officer. He got dressed, got in his car and immediately joined the search for the gunman. He spent time scouring muddy areas near a Walmart distribution center and helped guard the Lewiston Armory, where witnesses were being interviewed. He tried to offer what help he could to frantic family members wondering about loved ones who were at the shooting sites.


One woman came looking for her husband, whom she didn’t know yet had died. Physic had no news to offer then but found out later about the woman’s loss.

“I’ve done death notifications before, but this was different,” said Physic, 45, who also coaches the Lewiston High School boys’ basketball team. “This was sending somebody away who in the next 15 minutes was going to find out her husband was dead.”

More than 350 police and law enforcement agents would eventually work on the search for the gunman and on the shootings investigation.

An English Cream Golden Retriever therapy dog named Oliver and his handler, Katrina White, were among those who responded the night of the shootings. Police had worked with White through Safe Voices, an organization that helps domestic violence survivors, and asked her and Oliver to come comfort the witnesses as they waited to talk to police at the armory.

“Everyone was in shock. But I can’t think of anyone Oliver greeted who shied away from (him). Some got down on the floor with him,” said White, 41, of Turner. “Being with a dog is a safe place; dogs provide that unconditional love. We were just trying to be a calming presence for people. ”

With Lewiston and Auburn locked down and businesses closed as police searched for the gunman, Sophia Bailey wondered, “What are they going to eat? I felt like we had to help the police so they could catch the guy.”


She and her husband, Jeff Bailey, opened their food truck, Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine, parked in a store lot on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and offered free food all day to police, first responders, reporters and anyone else. Other businesses did the same, Bailey said.

Father Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, based in Lewiston, couldn’t open the parish’s five churches the day after the shootings. Instead, he organized online masses for his 15,000 parish members. When the churches could open on Saturday and Sunday, collection money gathered went toward families of victims, including for funeral costs. Greenleaf also helped plan a vigil, a sacred music performance and a blood drive.

At High Street Congregational Church UCC in Auburn, the Rev. Debbie Duval’s service after the lockdown featured cornhole boards and flowers near the front of the church. The church’s custodian, Bill Lelansky, knew people killed at Schemengees, all there to play cornhole. He would have been there too, if not for a sore shoulder, Duval said.

Counselors and mental health professionals rushed into action after the shootings. But much of their work likely still lies ahead.

“When something like this happens, everyone supports the hell out of it, celebrities come in. But in a few weeks, they go away,” said Colin O’Neill, 55, chief clinical officer at Tri-County Mental Health Services in Lewiston. “That’s the critical point, that’s when we need to take care of each other, to recognize who is not able to function as well as before, who is kind of struggling.”

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