The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt students react with shock, grief to Lewiston, Maine, shooting

The shooting, which occurred on Oct. 25, claimed the lives of 18 and injured 13 more.
Lawn chair sits out front of North House, as captured on Nov. 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/George Albu)
George Albu
Lawn chair sits out front of North House, as captured on Nov. 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/George Albu)

The Vanderbilt community reacted with shock and sorrow to a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, that left 18 dead and 13 injured. Students from Maine said news of the tragedy has devastated their communities. 

The shooter was identified as Robert Card, a U.S. Army reservist with a history of mental health issues. Card was found dead after killing multiple people at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-In-Time Recreation, including one minor — 14-year-old Aaron Young. The shooting is the deadliest in Maine’s history and the deadliest in the U.S. this year. 

Reports show that Maine sheriffs were knowledgeable of his declining mental health and that he owned 10-15 firearms, and even attempted a wellness check. In July, Card had been admitted to a hospital for two weeks to receive mental health treatment.

Maine’s “yellow-flag” law, which requires multiple steps to be taken before a court can forcefully remove weapons from a threatening person’s possession, was not invoked in this case and has never been used by the Saha County Sheriff’s Office, which polices Lewiston. 

Julia Ayer, a senior and native of Maine, expressed sorrow for her community, saying that Lewiston will not be able to move past the tragedy for several years, “if not decades,” to come.  

“Each loss is felt by the community so deeply, and the knowledge that the shooting occurred in such an ordinary place among ordinary people is jarring for everyone,” Ayer said. “I can only hope that, as a result of the tragedy, there is real progress made towards controlling assault weapons that cause so much grief in everyday communities such as mine.”

Bates College, a small liberal arts college located between the shooting sites, remained on lockdown until Oct. 27, when the shooter was found dead. Students were only permitted to leave their dorms once a day to collect meals. 

Savannah Welske, a sophomore transfer student from Bates, said the shooting made her anxious. 

“I felt a sense of anxiety and concern in me that I had never experienced before,” Welske said. “Having been a member of that small community less than a year ago, I found myself nervously checking the New York Times for updates constantly, which suddenly had my old college town’s name written across many of its primary headlines.” 

Vanderbilt College Democrats President Chase Mandell, a senior, urged lawmakers to take action in the wake of the shooting.

“The recent shooting in Maine highlights the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our country. We once again call on lawmakers for common sense gun reform, ensuring the safety of our communities,” Mandell said.

Vanderbilt College Republicans Secretary Noah Jenkins, a junior, expressed sympathy for the victims and offered condolences to the community.

“On behalf of all Vanderbilt College Republicans, I would like to offer my deep condolences to the victims and families of all affected by the acts of evil committed in Lewiston last week,” Jenkins said. “Such times of high emotion often lead many, even those on the right, to understandably rush and inject politics into incidents like these. We implore all to instead take this time to offer up prayers for the grieving community.”

Tellie Stamaris, a junior from Gorham, Maine — located an hour from Lewiston, said she was stunned to see her home state on the news.

“When I first heard the news about what happened in Lewiston, I simply could not process anything. It wasn’t until I started watching the live news footage — and seeing familiar places — that the tragedy began to sink in,” Stamaris said.

Stamaris further expressed frustration with the perpetual threat of gun violence in the United States.  

“In the wake of heartbreak, I am angry. Angry at a government who won’t protect its citizens,” Stamaris said. “It should weigh heavy on the heads of our leaders who choose to send thoughts and prayers instead of taking action.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee recently signed an executive order that strengthened background checks for licensed firearm dealers, but many in the state still say its gun laws remain too relaxed. Everytown, a non-profit research initiative aimed at preventing gun violence, ranked Tennessee 29th nationally for gun law strength, citing “weak gun laws and a high gun death rate.” Lee described the shooting in Lewiston as “tragic” in a statement to a local news station.

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About the Contributor
George Albu, Staff Photographer
George Albu (‘27) is majoring in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. When not working for The Hustler, he enjoys taking long walks around campus, reading or watching video essays about anything and everything online. He can be reached at [email protected].
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