LEWISTON, Maine — Exterior the bowling alley focused by a mass shooter final week, President Joe Biden instructed Lewiston “you’re not alone” within the wake of the deadliest mass taking pictures in state historical past.
The president and his spouse, Jill Biden, have been set to spend roughly 4 hours in Lewiston on Friday. The Democrat’s remarks got here after a gathering with first responders at one other taking pictures website that has grow to be a memorial to victims. Afterward, Biden was set for personal conferences with victims and their households.
Biden’s go to got here 9 days after the Lewiston taking pictures, and it was a reminder of the size of the carnage. Eighteen individuals died and one other 13 have been injured Oct. 25 in what was the Tenth-deadliest mass taking pictures in U.S. historical past and the deadliest ever in Maine, lengthy often known as one of many most secure states within the nation regardless of having a few of its loosest gun legal guidelines.
“Jill and I are right here on behalf of the American individuals to grieve with you and ensure you know that you just’re not alone,” mentioned the president, who spoke alongside Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the first District.
The president centered on victims greater than coverage on the go to, although he made a imprecise reference to a necessity for “accountable measures” to guard households. He issued a press release proper after the taking pictures calling for gun management measures. They included bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in addition to increasing background examine necessities.
There may be rising scrutiny across the months of warning indicators previous the Lewiston assaults. The shooter, 40-year-old Robert R. Card II of Bowdoin, was an Military reservist who sparked two stories to native police courting again to Could. They by no means made contact with him regardless of a fellow soldier’s fears that Card would “snap and do a mass taking pictures.”
The lead-up to the taking pictures is the topic of two Military investigations. Mills mentioned Wednesday she’s going to assemble a panel to research the occasions earlier than the taking pictures and the two-day seek for Card that locked down the area till he was discovered useless of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Lisbon. A sheriff’s deputy accused the Maine State Police of mismanaging the search.
These sorts of visits have gotten a somber routine for Biden. This mass taking pictures marked the fifth throughout his tenure wherein 10 or extra Individuals have been killed. The Lewiston taking pictures was the deadliest since one final 12 months at an elementary faculty in Uvalde, Texas.
Since Card’s physique was discovered, the group has mourned whereas making an attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy. Lewiston Excessive Faculty’s soccer crew performed its rivalry sport towards Edward Little of Auburn on Wednesday with a nationwide anthem sung by James Taylor.
Two of the primary funerals for victims Tricia Asselin and Ronald Morin have been held on Friday earlier than Biden got here to Maine. The president was anticipated to spend roughly two hours with survivors of the taking pictures and households of the victims at a Lewiston faculty after his quick speech.
“The street to therapeutic might be lengthy, however we are going to heal collectively,” Mills mentioned.
Forward of Biden’s arrival, dozens of younger Lewiston residents have been passing out ribbons and signing a big “Lewiston Sturdy” poster exterior the Tree Road Youth Heart on Howe Road.
Anybody was welcome to choose up a bundle of 18 ribbons — one for every sufferer killed — and a small slip of paper with directions to tie the ribbons round utility poles, timber or lamp posts within the metropolis, take a second to recollect the losses, and return 18 days later to take them down.
Julia Sleeper, the youth heart’s government director, mentioned the younger individuals she works with got here up with the thought whereas speaking in regards to the shootings and making an attempt to catalyze them.
“We simply mentioned, ‘Nicely, we’d like extra love,” Sleeper mentioned. “You’re feeling so helpless when one thing like this occurs.”