It was the aim of Stephen Bossom and his family to visit every national park in the country as they traveled from one corner of the United States to another in their Airstream camper.

Bossom and his wife, Abbie, had developed many friends through their travels over the last several years. He was a skilled craftsman who sought new challenges and had a fondness for lending a hand to others.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody that had more friends than Stephen had,” his mother, Susan Bossom, said Friday.

Many of them are expected to gather Saturday for a memorial service for Stephen Bossom in Virginia. Bossom was fatally shot July 15 by a Penobscot County sheriff’s deputy at Sebasticook Lake Campground in Newport.

Stephen Bossom can be seen holding a handgun July 15 as he argues with law enforcement officers seconds before he pointed the gun at them and was fatally shot at the Sebasticook Lake Campground in Newport. Video screenshot

His mother provided one of the first accounts of Bossom’s life since the shooting, such as his travels with his family, his work as a youth minister and other pursuits.  The account gives a fuller understanding of a man who died in a confrontation with law enforcement officers who had rushed to the campground last week on a report of an armed threat there.

Bossom, 35, had been staying at the campground for a few months with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. The couple had been working part-time there in exchange for space for their trailer. An owner of the campground previously explained that Bossom said he saw a threat on social media targeting the campground and told the owner to call 911.


But when police and sheriff’s deputies responded, an armed Bossom can be seen on video released by the state attorney general’s office arguing with them, saying that they are not the “real” police. The 45-second video, recorded by a man who was standing some distance behind Bossom, shows Bossom yell, “If you want to shoot me, shoot me!”

He then raises a handgun toward officers, who are obscured in the video by a motor home. A long gun is seen pointing out from behind the motor home and a single shot is discharged at Bossom before the video ends abruptly. Deputy Kenneth York has been identified by authorities as the one who fired the shot.

Susan Bossom declined to comment on her son’s actions before his death and whether she had seen the video.

She said her son and his family had been traveling for less than a year in their vintage Airstream camper. They had driven to Florida before heading north, stopping to visit her in Virginia on their way to Maine.

The family wanted to see every national park, an idea perhaps first planted when Stephen Bossom was a boy and his family would visit parks with their pop-up trailer in tow, she said.

That childhood travel was one of the things that drew Bossom to Colorado, where he had a home with his wife and daughter. Although he was young when he first visited the state, he remembered it and enjoyed its scenic beauty, his mother said.


While Bossom and his family lived in Colorado, they renovated several houses, his mother said, before taking on the Airstream camper. He fixed up the camper, making it look as good as new. Bossom put his unique touch on every inch of the camper, she said, taking the time to do things like make a mosaic with photos and add wood pieces on the curved front of the Airstream.

Bossom was the youngest of five and grew up in Virginia. His mother said he was able to quickly pick up new skills; she recalled him learning how to swim as a young child and competing in the local swimming league at the age of 3.

He went on to play soccer and then later got a scholarship to compete in cross-country running at Covenant College in Georgia. When he no longer competed as an athlete, he turned much of his time to assisting others, Susan Bossom said.

“He was a person who every place that he went, he fixed and repaired for free things that people needed,” she said.

He went on to become a youth minister, which eventually connected him with his wife. The two met at a retreat and married about a year later.

He worked for a couple of years at the Bridge Church at Bear Creek in Lakewood, Colorado, where he met Ethan Johnwesley.

Bossom was Johnwesley’s youth minister during Johnwesley’s time in high school and they continued to keep in touch after he graduated. Bossom was more than a minister in the community, though, he was a mentor and a father figure to many young people, Johnwesley said Friday.

“He gave everyone a reason to laugh and he made it clear that there is never a reason to stop loving people, and there’s always a reason to keep laughing,” Johnwesley said. “No matter what kind of struggles you’re going through, there’s always someone there for you. And for a lot of people that someone was Stephen.”

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