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Community vigil in Maine remembers Lewiston mass shooting victims

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are covering the Middle East War and also covering violence in the United States. In Lewiston, Maine, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil last night. They remembered 18 people killed last week in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States this year so far. Maine Public's Patty Wight reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing) Like me...

PATTY WIGHT, BYLINE: It was standing room only in the 1,500-seat Basilica church, where people packed into pews, hugged and cried. At least a thousand more gathered outside by candlelight to honor the family, friends and coworkers who were killed at a bowling alley and a bar last Wednesday. In between songs and music, faith leaders urged the community to support each other as they seek healing. Reverend Allen Austin is from Pathway Vineyard church in Lewiston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALLEN AUSTIN: Please, Lewiston, do not lose hope.

WIGHT: He told them not to let the shootings divide them and offered two pieces of advice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AUSTIN: That would be to be a people who listen well and a people who love well.

WIGHT: The vigil was one of the first opportunities to come together after a two-day lockdown while police searched for the suspect. His body was found Friday night. He died after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. As the community tries to come to terms with the loss of 18 people, who ranged in age from 14 to 76, the grief extends beyond those who directly lost a loved one and beyond Lewiston's borders. Kimberly Phinney lives in the nearby city of Augusta, but she says she grew up here.

KIMBERLY PHINNEY: I haven't been able to cry. I've been so mad. I'm in Augusta. Yes, I lived there for a long time, but it's not my home like here. This is where my heritage is. This is where I grew up, and someone attacked it.

WIGHT: Phinney says she wants to see stricter gun laws so other communities don't have to endure another mass shooting. Here in Lewiston, Phinney says it will take time, but they'll persevere.

For NPR News, I'm Patty Wight in Lewiston, Maine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Patty Wight
Patty is a graduate of the University of Vermont and a multiple award-winning reporter for Maine Public Radio. Her specialty is health coverage: from policy stories to patient stories, physical health to mental health and anything in between. Patty joined Maine Public Radio in 2012 after producing stories as a freelancer for NPR programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She got hooked on radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and hasn’t looked back ever since.