Last Wednesday, eighteen people between the ages of 14 and 76 were killed in a mass shooting in Lewiston. Thirteen others were injured, and three remain in critical condition.
After a more than 48 hour manhunt, law enforcement found the suspected shooter dead of an apparently self-inflicted gun shot wound inside of a trailer located in the overflow lot of Maine Recycling Corporation in Lisbon.
Since then, Mainers have begun to cope with this unthinkable tragedy and grieve for those who lost their lives.
Hundreds more watched a live stream of the service that was projected on a screen outside of the church.
Many who gathered held lit candles in cups marked with the names of those who were killed and injured last Wednesday night.
At one point during the vigil, mourners both inside and outside of the church held up the American Sign Language (ASL) sign translating to “I love you” in honor of the four deaf victims.
Contributing to the vigil were Christian leaders, a rabbi, and an imam. There was also a speaker from Lewiston’s deaf and hard of hearing community — Kevin Bohlin — who signed his message in ASL.
Although the victims are now gone, he said, “they are directing us to come together and make a difference in this world.”
“So let our hearts pour with grief and joy for the people who have been traumatized by escaping and or surviving and those who have also been taken from us,” Bohlin continued.
“Remember to seek healing over relief,” Rev. Gary Bragg of the Southern Baptist Church in Lewiston said. “Relief is temporary. Healing is permanent. Pain is temporary.”
Rev. Allen Austin — a senior pastor at Pathways Vineyard Church in Lewiston — encouraged the crowd to “stay focused on the things that invite peace into our communities.”
Austin went on to say that he hopes what comes of this tragedy is a “kinder people, a more compassionate people, a more merciful people.”
Rev. Todd Little from the First United Pentecostal Church of Lewiston said that members of the greater Lewiston community now has a “shared brokenness, worry, fear and loss.”
“We will not be defined by the tragedies that happened,” he said. “Fear, anxiety and trepidation will not dictate our present or our future.”
The “One Lewiston” vigil started around 6pm and lasted for about an hour.
On Saturday night, vigils were held at at Lewiston’s Kennedy Park and Lisbon’s Worumbo Riverfront Event Center.
Disclosure — All images included in this article are courtsey of WGME.