LEWISTON – Never has the sound of falling bowling pins sounded so sweet. 

The scene of so much horror just over six months ago, Just-In-Time Recreation reopened Friday and once again it was filled with the sounds of happy chatter, hearty laughter and random rounds of thunderous applause. 

More than six months after a shooting at the business left nine people dead, the lanes were open again and bowling clans were reunited.  

For some, getting back into the swing of things was like ripping off a bandage. They didn’t just want to be there, they needed it. 

“It was a little difficult at first,” said Andrea White, who came from Brunswick to bowl. “It was a little bit emotional, but I’m ready.” 

“It was strange and a little bit stressful when I first got here,” said Nancy Herrick of Auburn, who bowls with a group of adults with disabilities as part of their therapy. “I almost didn’t walk in. But you have to do it and now everybody is here and we’re all happy to be back.” 


For weeks after the Oct. 25 tragedy, Becky Brady would drive around the parking lot outside the bowling alley on Mollison Way and cry. She’s been bowling at Just-In-Time on teams for years and she cried for all the people she’d lost in the shooting. 

But Friday was different. Friday was not just a grand reopening, it was an act of defiance and the beginning of better times. 

“My family is here,” Brady said. “When tragedy happens, you find your family. We came back together as a group and we’ve come back strong.” 

Like many who filled the business shoulder-to-shoulder Friday afternoon, Chad Hopkins was at the bowling alley the night of the shooting. He and several others survived and now they were coming to reclaim the space that meant so much to them. 

Longtime bowlers Adam Jordan, left, and Chad Hopkins embrace Friday during the grand reopening of Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Hopkins was at the bowling alley the night of the mass shooting. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“It’s beyond words, really,” Hopkins said, sweeping his arms out to indicate the vast space that has been cleaned up, remodeled and improved since the nightmare of Oct. 25. “Not only did it get an extreme makeover and an upgrade, but the color scheme is different, and the layout is different. It looks fantastic. And then to see this outpouring from the community, and to see many old faces and new ones coming in… I mean, this is what community is all about, right?” 

Hopkins escaped from the chaos the night of the shooting, but by the time it was over, he had lost many friends. He was part of a “soft opening” of the business on Tuesday and being back at the scene of so much carnage was strange and uncomfortable at first. 


“It was emotional for me just walking through the doors,” he said. “But coming back here is pretty important.” 

Roughly 500 people showed up for the reopening, and possibly more. It was not a sad or subdued crowd, it was a jubilant one. Most seemed to understand that the time for sadness was over. Just-In-Time owners Samantha and Justin Juray had worked hard to get the business running again and those who came on Friday wanted to thank them, not with gloom but with exuberance. 

“This had to happen,” said Denis Webber, a former Lewiston business owner who came from Florida for the reopening. “We needed this, we really did.” 

Denis Webber, right, and Just-In-Time Recreation co-owner Justin Juray stand at the Lewiston bowling alley during Friday’s grand reopening. Webber owned The Cage in downtown Lewiston for 25 years and returned from his winter home in Florida to attend. “There was no way I was going to miss this,” Webber said. The bowling pins on the wall represent the 18 people who lost their lives in the Oct. 25, 2023, mass shooting at the bowling alley and at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street, also in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Johnathan Moore was there with Sara Welch and their 9-year-old daughter Izzy, who bowls in a youth league. This trio, too, was at Just-In-Time the night when a madman with a rifle walked in and started shooting. 

It was a traumatizing affair. But the family insists there was never any doubt that they’d come back. 

“This place is home,” said Johnathan, seated at a table with his family.  


“We’re more than glad they’re open again,” Sara said. “It’s a new beginning. It’s about family and community.” 

Izzy, too, was thrilled to be back. But she still has questions about that grim night and the shooter that caused such terror. 

“I just don’t know why he had to do it,” she said. “It makes no sense to me. He could have gotten help instead of having to do all this. It’s just really frustrating to me.” 

Izzy Welch, 9, of Lewiston misses a spare by a tiny bit Friday at Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Welch, her father, Johnathan Moore, right, and mother, Sara Welch, were at the bowling alley Oct. 25, 2023, when a shooter entered and left eight patrons dead. Welch, a third grader at Connors Elementary School, was given permission by her parents to take the day off school to attend the grand reopening, knowing what she has been through. “It’s good to be home,” a regular at the alley said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The event drew a lot of area politicians there to make their remarks. It also drew a slew of police, fire and rescue crews, some of whom had been called out to the bowling alley the night of the shooting. 

Shanna Cox, president and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, several times roused the crowd to applause by calling out those first responders for praise, but also by reiterating the commitment of the Jurays in getting the community involved in the reopening. 

“Today is a day of hope, resilience and overcoming,” said Cox, who also pointed out that in addition to the 18 killed and 13 wounded in the shootings, many, many more people were directly impacted by the shooting.


Lewiston Shooting Reopening

Katie Nichols bowls at Just-In-Time Recreation during Friday’s reopening of the Lewiston bowling alley, which has been closed for six months following the Oct. 25 deadly mass shooting. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Words like “guts” and “courage” were offered by the speakers and the massive crowd responded with unrestrained enthusiasm. 

“This is us standing back up again,” Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said. “Lewiston can never be kept down.” 

It was a theme repeated over and over. The folks of this community are tough, several people observed. Too tough to be kept down for long by the actions of one violent man on a single grim night. 

“People are resilient,” Linda Simones said. “And we needed to come together now and show our strength as a community.” 

“We’ve got to keep going forward,” agreed her husband, Jim. “This show of people here today is amazing.” 

Just-In-Time officially reopened Friday morning. Several people bowled through the morning and into the afternoon before the grand hoopla got underway. 


Speeches were delivered. The Jurays were given yet another round of wall-shaking applause. A ribbon was cut to open the business in a more ceremonious way. The end result was that the sprawling bowling alley, tucked into the business district on Mollison Way, had become a grand symbol of the toughness and defiance of the people of Lewiston. 

Some brought flowers Friday for Just-In-Time Recreation owners Justin and Samantha Juray for the grand reopening in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Lewiston police Chief David St. Pierre was one of a half-dozen who spoke before the throngs of people before the ribbon was cut. He grew up in Lewiston, and like so many others, the savage attack on its people in October left him reeling. 

“For me, the tragedy of Oct. 25 brought forth a whirlwind of emotions,” the chief said. “Shock, disbelief, grief and sadness…. Yet amidst the darkness, there emerged a glimmer of hope — a sense of determination and resilience. It is the resilience that brings us together today.” 

The chief commended the Jurays for their courage and hard work in getting the bowling lanes open again. It was an expression of gratitude echoed by all who  made speeches, thanking the couple for giving the community a place to go again.

Bowling pins commemorating the grand reopening of Just-In-Time Recreation are displayed Friday at the bowling alley in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“By doing so,” Mayor Sheline said, “owners Justin and Samantha Juray are not only preserving a beloved community space but also honoring those who passed, those who continue to recover, and those who struggle with what they witnessed on Oct. 25. 

“Lewiston and its people are strong,” the mayor said. “We rally when things are tough — and Oct. 25 was tougher than ever before — and day by day, we continue to work through grief and heal little by little — and today, we have a reason to smile.” 


Gov. Janet Mills spoke with the Jurays before delivering her remarks Friday. The governor said she has come to understand the importance of the bowling alley to the people of Lewiston and surrounding towns. 

“Just-In-Time Recreation Center is a place where people can gather to celebrate birthdays and to bowl with their children, unwinding from a long day at work or celebrating the weekend with laughter and love,” Mills said. “It is a place that brings people together. As Samantha said, ‘People come in here as strangers, but they leave as friends and family.’” 

When all the pomp was over and the crowd thinned a bit, Just-In-Time was just a bowling alley again, albeit one of great historic significance. 

Rhonda Webber gives Chad Hopkins a hug Friday during the grand reopening of Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Hopkins was at the bowling alley the night of the mass shooting. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Everybody was happy to see those lanes open again, but the dedicated bowlers of the community — and there are a whole lot of them — were particularly thankful that the Jurays saw to it that the lanes are open again and that all those bowling families can be together once more. 

“They saved bowling,” said Gerard Dennison, a longtime league bowler from Auburn. “Without them, we had nothing after the shooting massacre and now, because of their heart and courage to reopen, we have somewhere to bowl.” 

The Jurays took a gamble reopening their business, everyone agreed, when it might have been easier to quit and let the sadness of Oct. 25 forever mark the spot. 


Now that the pomp of Friday’s ceremony is over, all those avid bowlers say they plan to keep coming back. League nights, tournaments, celebrations and all the occasions that make Just-In-Time a happy place rather than a grim one. 

Cox, from the Chamber of Commerce, stressed the importance of supporting the business as things move forward.

That shouldn’t be a problem.

“Look at this turnout,” said Denis Webber, who had come from Florida for the event. “It’s really great, but this is nothing. People are just going to keep rolling in.” 

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