By Chris Van Buskirk, Boston Herald
LEWISTON, Maine — Miia Zellner and Hunter Kissam realized something was wrong in their hometown when they heard sirens blaring outside their apartment.
As they investigated what was happening, they said a cop came up to their car Wednesday night and told them to show their hands, and then “move on.”
Zellner, 22, and Kissam, 27, were only a short distance away from Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant, one of two sites involved in a mass shooting that left 18 people dead and 13 wounded, according to police.
“We didn’t think it was nearly as bad as it was,” Kissam told the Herald Thursday while he was walking down Lisbon Street, a main thoroughfare in downtown Lewiston. “We thought like, okay, somebody got mad at a bar and shot somebody or whatever. And then we heard a shooter. Then we saw headlines with active shooter, and we were not expecting it to be what it was.”
Chris Van Buskirk/Boston Herald
Chris Van Buskirk/Boston Herald
The shooting is the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database run by Northeastern University in Boston in conjunction with media outlets.
The horrific events that unfolded Wednesday rocked residents in Lewiston and across Maine, as other mass shootings have done with the seemingly never-ending list of cities and towns nationwide.
An artist by trade and originally from Central Massachusetts, Zellner decided Thursday to make heart-shaped cutouts from poster board adorned with phrases like “to my community” or “to my friends” to place on light posts throughout downtown Lewiston.
“I was feeling a lot of emotions about the whole thing this morning and it kind of manifested physically into this. I just wanted to show my support and love for the community and give people a visual representation of the type of support that people feel,” Zellner said in-between placing the heart cutouts onto street lights and trees.
Areas around Lewiston were nearly deserted Thursday as law enforcement maintained a shelter-in-place order for the city as well as the neighboring communities of Lisbon and Bowdoin.
Occasional dog walkers interspersed with people experiencing homelessness slowly meandered through a main park just across the street from City Hall. But the media nearly outnumbered the locals who were venturing into public spaces.
Businesses were largely shut down in Lewiston, with most gas stations, restaurants, and shops shuttered as law enforcement continued a massive manhunt for 40-year-old Robert Card, who they said is a suspect connected to the shootings.
Lisbon Street, where Zellner hung the heart-shaped posters, was nearly empty.
“It’s usually so much busier than right now,” she said, hoping her posters would help promote “some type of positive from this.”
At a press conference earlier Thursday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills said the shooting tore through the “peace of mind” of all residents in the state, but especially in Lewiston.
“This is a dark day for Maine. I know it’s hard for us to think about healing when our hearts are broken,” Mills said. “But I want every person in Maine to know that we will heal together. We are strong. We are resilient. We are a very caring people.”