Maine mass shooting: For relative, ‘there’s no processing this’
Rob Young knew something was off. He’d texted his brother Bill about buying tickets to see Blink-182 in Washington, D.C., but Bill hadn’t responded for hours.
Then he heard from a friend about the shooting in Lewiston, Maine, at a bowling alley and a bar. From his dad, he learned that his brother and his 14-year-old nephew, Aaron, had gone bowling that night.
Young, 41, began desperately searching online for any possible video of the shooting, including 4Chan, an anonymous web forum known for its shock value. Bill Young, 44, would have been hard to miss: 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. And knowing Bill, his brother said, he would have lunged at the gunman.
“There’s no doubt anywhere in my mind,” Young told The Times on Thursday night. “So we had bad feeling from the start.”
When Young couldn’t find video, he began making calls to anyone he thought might help. One state police officer stopped answering his calls, Young said.
“I was so disgusted,” Young said. “I see that you might be stressed, but put yourself in my shoes.”
Young, having stayed up all night, flew from his home near Baltimore to Lewiston on Thursday morning. His sister who lives in Massachusetts had traveled to the reunification site near Lewiston, arriving Thursday morning before 5 a.m. “It was just, ‘Sorry, we can’t tell you anything,’” Young said.
All along, he said, the family held out hope. They’d heard that no children had been hurt in the shooting. If they’d lost Bill, they believed they’d be reunited with Aaron.
Maine state police arrived at around 1 p.m. Thursday to break the news of Aaron’s and Bill’s deaths to the Young family.
Bill’s wife felt unable to speak with the officers, so Young spoke with them outside the house. He said he felt angry over the “false hope” and the long wait with no information.
“Somebody knew something, but everybody refused to speak to us,” he said. “I knew in my gut, but you can’t start grieving until you actually get the actual person telling you, yes, they are deceased.”
Young said his brother loved his kids — they were “the most important thing to him.” Bill Young had his 18-year-old daughter’s name tattooed on his forearm, and he’d taken Aaron — a talented young bowler — to Just-In-Time for league competition. Three weeks ago, Aaron had bowled 275 at the facility, now the site of a mass shooting.
Young recalled his brother as a “man’s man,” a goofy “life of the party” — and his best friend. Aaron, an intelligent kid, idolized his dad and wanted to be just like him, Young said.
“They were both the apple of each other’s eyes,” Young said.
Young said he would have been able to identify his brother’s body right away if given the chance earlier.
“There’s no way to process this,” he said, voice cracking. “My brother, my nephew who I deeply loved, and my sister-in-law … She lost her child, lost her husband. … There’s no processing this. There’s no justice.”
A statement Thursday from the Winthrop Public Schools, where Aaron was a student, called the shooting a “tremendous tragedy.” The statement did not identify any victim by name.
“This is uncharted territory,” said Jim Hodgkin, the district’s superintendent. “My heart is broken by this and I implore you all to be patient with everyone through this process. This is going to be a process that will take a long time.”
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