LEWISTON — Gathered at City Hall on Monday for a four-hour hearing, survivors of the Oct. 25, 2023, mass shooting in Lewiston shared their stories, struggles and frustrations with the state commission investigating the shootings.

“We’re all hurting,” said survivor Bobbi Nichols.

Some survivors reported running, some hiding and some freezing as the shooting unfolded. Many of the survivors talked about the lack of communication right after the shooting when they were trying to reach family, friends and children who they became separated from during the events.

Many questioned how gunman Robert Card was able to walk free and keep his weapons despite many officials being aware of his mental state. Their prevailing message was the same: The system needs to change so the incident does not happen again.

“Enough is enough, it truly angers me to know we were so close to preventing this and yet we were failed,” Tammy Asselin said.

Bobbi Nichols wipes away a tear as she talks Monday morning in Lewiston City Hall during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting Oct. 25, 3023. Her sister was killed at Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Numerous survivors and family members testified about what they went through on that night and in the following months in the packed Council Chambers. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Ben Dyer, who was badly hurt at Schemengees Bar & Grille, told commissioners that “people knew this was going to happen and nobody stopped it.”


“The system failed everybody here. We’ve all been through hell. We continue to live it,” he said.

Monday morning’s public hearing in City Hall Council Chambers was the sixth by the Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston and the first in Lewiston.

Asselin was the first person to testify about her experience at Just-In-Time Recreation as Card began shooting at people in the building. When he entered the bowling alley and started shooting she froze with her young daughter next to her before completely understanding what was happening, she said. She quickly hid and became separated from her daughter.

Once she made her way outside with another child, she waited 45 minutes before she heard that her daughter was safe, she said. Her daughter had left the building with a bowling coach and was being kept safe with another bowling family before her daughter was able to call Tammy Asselin’s father, who had come down to the bowling alley. The daughter said over the phone, “Pepe, I’m not dead.”

During that time, nobody she asked had information on where her daughter was, she said. She eventually learned that 911 had been notified that her daughter was safe but she is unsure if police were told that, Asselin said.

Survivor Destiny Johnson told commission members that gun-free zones such as Schemengees, the site of the second shooting where she was that night, put people at risk. She also questioned why the state has a yellow flag law if it is rarely used.


Deaf survivors of the shootings told the commission about the complications and fear they faced not being able to communicate to first responders and doctors. They also spoke about how translation tools failed to efficiently help them communicate with those of the hearing community.

Ben Dyer talks Monday at Lewiston City Hall about the night he was shot five times Oct. 25, 2023, at Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston. He was one of numerous survivors who spoke during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Richard Morlock, a member of the deaf community, told the panel he had been sitting in a corner at Schemengees when “I heard all of the popping of the bullets flying.”

Shots hit “right in front of me,” he said, and the wood there “just disintegrated,” sending splinters into his arm and side.

“I decided to play dead. I just lay there. I was too scared to do anything else.”

Morlock said he watched Card “shooting people that were already on the floor. He shot a bunch of people on the floor.”

By the time Card left, he said, “There was blood everywhere, friends everywhere.”


Many people talked about their friends who died, including Danielle Grondin, who spoke about Mike Deslauriers II and Jason Walker, both of whom ran toward the gunman in an effort to stop him. They died but it allowed others in the building time to escape, she said, regarding them as heroes. Grondin said she now feels guilt and sadness about their deaths.

Many of the survivors talked about the trauma they are still dealing with, including sleep disruption, feeling unsafe in public, being sensitive to loud noises and often reliving the events.

Nichols, who escaped the bowling alley but whose sister died there, said she is “really struggling.”

“I have days when I cannot even leave my bedroom because I don’t feel safe,” Nichols said. “I don’t go nowhere. I very rarely talk to people.”

In a statement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said he appreciated the commission holding a meeting in Lewiston.

“The stories from survivors are as powerful as they are tragic, and our hearts go out to them,” he said. “It’s not easy or comfortable to share memories from that night, but the survivors’ testimony is necessary for the commission and community to hear if we are going to learn from this tragedy and make changes.”

At the end of the hearing, the commission chairman, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, said the stories he heard “added powerfully” to the panel’s understanding of events, making them “more alive and more real” than they’d ever been.

The commission, which was created by Gov. Janet Mills, will meet Thursday in Augusta to hear from members of the U.S. Army. The meetings are livestreamed via YouTube.

Wathen said the panel plans to sum up its findings in a final report, but may issue an interim one as well.

Chris Dyndiuk pauses for a moment Monday as he recounts his experience during the mass shooting in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. He was one of numerous survivors speaking at Lewiston City Hall during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting Oct. 25, 2023. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

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