Volunteer youth bowling coach and ‘hero’ bar manager among Maine shooting victims
Oct 26, 2023, 3:01 PM
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A volunteer youth bowling coach known for encouraging children and a bar manager whose father said died “a hero” were among the at least 18 people killed and 13 injured in two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine.
According to Maine State Police, seven people died Wednesday night at Sparetime Recreation bowling alley, six were male and one was female. Eight more people, all male, died at Schemengees Bar and Grille; seven were killed outside the establishment; one inside. Three others died after being taken to area hospitals.
Authorities have not released the victims’ names, but their family members have been confirming their deaths.
Retiree Bob Violette, 76, devoted himself to his volunteer job coaching the youth bowling league that was practicing Wednesday night, said Patrick Poulin, whose teenage son has been a member for three years.
“He’s taught so many people over the years how to bowl, and he wasn’t getting paid,” he said. “We’ve really been focused on trying to keep the sport alive, and Bob was really an integral part of that.”
Violette’s daughter confirmed his death to WBZ-TV. Poulin described him as unfailingly approachable and caring.
“Sometimes kids are having a hard time for whatever reason, discouraged or something,” he said. “He was great at picking them up and getting them to move along from that issue and get things going in the right direction.”
Two weeks ago, Poulin was at the bowling center with his son and offered him some tips. His son resisted, but eventually took the advice and bowled a great game.
“You gave him some good instructions, so when are you going to get out here and coach with me?” Violette asked him.
Poulin replied that he’d have to think about it. Asked Thursday if he’d consider it now, he said, “Someone’s got to step back in.”
Michael Deslauriers’ father told CBS News that his son was one of those killed at Sparetime Recreation. His father, who shares the same name, said his son and a friend both were killed as they charged at the gunman after making sure their wives and several children were safe.
Joe Walker was the bar manager at Schemengees Bar and Grille. His father, Auburn City Councilor Leroy Walker, told NBC News on Thursday that his son was shot twice in the stomach as he went after the gunman with a butcher knife.
“He died as a hero,” he said.
Waiting for confirmation of his worst fears Wednesday night, Walker told the network he felt like his guts and neck were being “squashed with a vice.”
“And I don’t know, telling you the truth, what kind of night this is going to be from now until tomorrow when I wake up to the true facts that my son is dead — and I know he’s dead,” he said. “I know it as well as I know I’m standing here telling you because he’s not here and he’s not at any other hospital and he’s not running the streets or he would have called us, because he manages Schemengees, so I know he was there.”
Associated Press writers Alana Durkin Richer, Rhonda Shafner and Robert Bumstead contributed to this report.