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A Tale of Tragedy and Heroism: The Lewiston Mass Shooting

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Nitish Verma
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A Tale of Tragedy and Heroism: The Lewiston Mass Shooting

In the hushed silence that follows a drop of a ball at a bowling alley, a different sound resonated on the evening of October 25th, 2023. The persistent echo of gunfire shattered the calm of Lewiston, Maine, leaving behind trails of sorrow and heroism that would forever be etched in the town's history. The mass shooting at two locations, a bowling alley and a bar, claimed 18 lives, a number that would have been more if not for the courageous intervention of a man who was not just a manager at the bowling alley, but a former soldier and an unassuming hero - Thomas 'Tommy' Conrad.

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A Hero's Tale

As a manager at Just In Time Recreation, Conrad was not just an employee; he was a community figure planning a pumpkin carving event for children. His life took a fatal turn when Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist, walked into the bowling alley with a firearm, turning a regular day into a horrifying spectacle. Conrad, who had previously served in the Army and had tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't hesitate to confront the gunman. Tragically, his bravery cost him his life.

"Tommy was a good guy who never hesitated to put his life on the line," recalled Alex McMahan, a friend and co-owner of a local chain of dispensaries. Conrad's act of bravery was universally lauded, and a GoFundMe campaign was swiftly established to support his family, including his nine-year-old daughter, Caroline.

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The Shooter and The Aftermath

The shooter, Robert Card, was an Army reservist and a firearms instructor with a history of mental health issues. He went on the run post the shootings, prompting a 48-hour shelter-in-place order in Lewiston. The manhunt ended with Card's body found from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The names of the other victims killed in the shooting, released by the authorities, included a couple in their 70s, a 14-year-old bowler, a deaf man, a pipefitter, and a sign language interpreter. Their stories, like Conrad's, were abruptly ended, leaving behind grieving families and a community in shock.

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A Community United in Grief

In the face of this tragic event, the Lewiston community came together, mourning their losses and supporting each other. Jack-o'-lanterns were left outside Just In Time Recreation, a tribute to Conrad's planned event. The bowling alley, once a place of joy and laughter, became a poignant reminder of lives lost and a symbol of unity and resilience as the community rallied around the victims' families.

The Lewiston shootings have ignited a national conversation about gun violence and the urgent need for stricter gun control measures. The incident also underscored the heroism of individuals like Conrad, who put their lives on the line to protect others. It served as a chilling reminder of the devastating impact of gun violence and the importance of addressing the underlying issues contributing to such tragedies.

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