It’s been five days since Robert Card shook Lewiston and the surrounding area to its core with a mass shooting. Now, on Monday, opinions differ as to whether the city has begun healing.
“It’s tough because everybody’s just getting a handle on it,” said Lewiston resident Tony Tucci, 61.
On Monday morning, there were literal signs everywhere of support in the wake of the shootings on Oct. 25 at Just-In-Time, a popular local bowling alley, and Schemengee’s Bar and Grille.
On the way into town, drivers passing along Washington Street (Route 202) heading north through Auburn saw a portable electronic sign on the side of the road with “Lewiston strong” in flashing yellow letters.
On Main Street, crossing over the Androscoggin River into Lewiston itself, a spontaneous memorial greeted drivers at the Lincoln Street intersection: A poster with “Lewiston Strong” written on it, with hearts where the letter “o” would be in both words.
Both hearts appeared to be bleeding, though whether it was drawn that way intentionally or simply the result of paint running in water from the morning’s rain was unclear. Beneath the posters, someone had laid flowers.
Just before noon, another memorial was being set up a few feet away from the poster, courtesy of the Hearts of Mercy & Compassion Ministry of Lutheran Church Charities, a charitable organization based in Illinois.
The group placed a series of 18 crosses, one for each person who died in the shootings. Each cross bore a heart with a victim’s name written on it. A pen hung from a string in silent invitation for visitors to write down their thoughts.
As the volunteers worked, Rev. Timothy E. Sandeno, pastor of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Gorham, watched. He said his church contacted the group, requesting and partially funding the memorial.
“I hope the community gets something out of it,” he said. “It’s for them.”
Sandeno said some of his parishioners live in Lewiston, so he came to help. He and the charitable organization, which also brings comfort dogs to scenes of tragedies for therapy, visited McMahon Elementary School earlier in the day. Superintendent Jake Langlais had already announced schools would be open Monday for staff only, but Sandeno said the adults appreciated the therapy dogs.
“Dogs have a way of putting people at ease, and helping people relax,” he said.
As to the mood of people overall, Sandeno said it was hard to say, only that “it’s mixed.”
“I think everybody’s still kind of in shock,” he said.
Elsewhere in town, Mike Bolduc, a clerk at Dave’s Place, a gas station and sandwich shop on Sabbatus Street, said customers came and went like always throughout the weekend. Conversations, he said, didn’t revolve around the shootings.
“A lot of them don’t know what to say,” he said.
Across the street, at Luiggi’s Pizzeria, Manager Tammy Truman said there hadn’t been much conversation about the shootings on Monday. She said she thinks the discovery of Card’s body in a trailer in Lisbon Falls Saturday evening brought people a sense of resolution.
“I think they’re all just glad it’s behind us,” she said. She added that people could get a good night’s sleep after Saturday.
“Guaranteed!” she exclaimed. “We all felt safe.”
Tucci, who lives near the pizzeria, was picking up a sub for lunch Monday. He said he felt closer to his neighbors in the wake of the tragedy.
“I think it’s brought everybody together,” he said.
Tucci said he knew Lewiston needed to eventually find a way to move on. He wasn’t sure how, or how long it would take, but he was confident it would happen.
“We’re a pretty tight-knit community,” he said. “We’ll get through it.”
In Lisbon, some eateries were closed on Monday, but the Lisbon House of Pizza was open. Tracy Farrington, the manager, said that Joshua Seal, one of the shooting victims and a noted sign language interpreter, was a regular customer there.
When reflecting on this, Farrington shook her head and said, “It’s hard to believe, I guess.”
Farrington said her store was closed on Thursday but reopened during the daytime on Friday. She said she wasn’t just opening for business reasons.
“I felt like people needed a sense of normalcy,” she said.
By Monday, Farrington said, people were still talking about the shootings, but she said she didn’t feel tension or fear among her customers.
“They seemed to be back to normal,” she said.