Residents of Lewiston, Maine, and surrounding communities are shaken and anxious after a man shot and killed at least 18 people on Wednesday night, leading to a massive search for the suspect and shelter-in-place advisories in many areas.
The city looked abandoned on Thursday morning, with desolate parking lots outside the Shaws supermarket and the Lewiston Mall as a helicopter circled overhead.
Lewiston resident Jennifer Clark said she stayed inside watching the news until about 2 a.m. before trying to fall asleep.
Amanda Marinko of Yarmouth was also up all night. She said she has been trying to process her own feelings and comfort her teenage daughter.
“My daughter is 16, and she's been up all night restless and, you know, not really confused, but just uncertain,” Marinko said. “And I had told her, ‘No school for you, even if school was open.’ And that helped her a little bit. But I don't know.”
With classes canceled, 13-year-old Nick Boisvert also stayed home. He spent the day with his grandparents, listening to police scanners and gathering as much information as he could find on the situation.
“It definitely worries me cause we're in such, like, a small area that he could be anywhere,” Nick said. “We've been thinking he could — he could possibly see us, but we couldn't see him. He could hear us, and we couldn't hear him. He can be anywhere.”
Larry Conrad of Lewiston was also feeling uncertain Thursday morning.
“You don't go out anywhere and you don't know if he's gonna do it again because he's still out there,” Conrad said. “You can't even go out and enjoy yourself anymore without looking over your shoulder all the time.”
Patrica Shuttlesworth moved to Maine with her husband after a mass shooting in their prior hometown of Newtown, Connecticut.
“After Newtown — which is just this little idyllic little town in Connecticut — you know that there is no safe place,” Shuttlesworth said. “I know, unfortunately, that none of us are ever safe doing anything. And that's incredibly saddening.”
Less than four miles from where the suspected shooter was living in the rural town of Bowdoin, Patty Williams sat in a car with her husband outside Rocky Ridge Orchard, eating a donut.
Retired and 80 years old, she said she is still scared and hoped something sweet would make her feel less anxious. And she questioned her fellow Mainers who have voted against gun control measures.
“We need those big, powerful guns to be not allowed for citizens to have,” she said. “I wonder why that’s never come to be a law?”
The orchard, which runs a small bakery, had not heeded the lockdown. Cashier Wendelene Rios said she felt better being at work instead of isolating at home.
“It’s not okay to be alone,” she said, while packaging a chicken pot pie in foil. “I’m not scared. Yeah, we are very close to where this happened and where the person apparently might live ... [but] it was important for me to be in the community. I know how comforting and supportive that can be to others.”
Rios said she moved to Maine from Oklahoma. For her, the mass shooting last night brought back memories of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, where 168 people were killed in the blast.
Wendy Hart, who is visiting Maine from Lebanon, Tennessee, also reflected on the Lewiston deaths within the context of other mass killings.
“Nashville just went through this with an elementary school,” Hart said, recalling the six people — three children, three adults — who were killed in March. “It's kind of shocking, and it's something that I don't want us to get used to and it gets brushed under the rug.”
Phillip Martin contributed reporting.