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Funerals for Maine shooting victims near an end with service for man who died trying to save others

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AUBURN, Maine — A series of funerals for the 18 victims of the mass shooting in Maine last month is nearing a somber conclusion, with one of the remaining memorials held Saturday for a husband and father of two sons who was killed while trying to save others from a gunman in a bowling alley.

Jason Walker, 51, of Sabattus, was described by family at the service as an ambitious man with many self-taught skills, from gardening and playing the guitar to beekeeping, making sausage and sourdough bread. He was quick-witted, generous and caring, family said.

“Whatever my dad did he did not do it poorly,” Walker’s son Collin said. “He would meticulously study and perfect his many crafts and I would always be in awe of how one man could possibly learn and successfully apply such a wide breadth of knowledge.”

Walker and his best friend, Michael Deslauriers, 51, were among those killed in the shooting spree at Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley and at Schemengees Bar and Grille, in Lewiston, Maine, on Oct. 25.

Thirteen others were injured in the rampage by gunman Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist who was found dead two days later of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Walker and Deslauriers were slain at the bowling alley after rushing to protect their wives and children and then charging toward the gunman, according to Deslauriers’ father, who shares the same name as his son.

Funeral services also were held in recent days for many of the other victims, including a joint one on Friday for Bill Young, 44, and his son Aaron, 14, of Winthrop. Bill Young had taken his son to play in a youth bowling league at Just-in-Time Recreation.

On Wednesday, mourners gathered for the funeral of Joshua Seal, a sign language interpreter and leader in the Deaf community. He was shot and killed while playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees Bar and Grille with other members of the Deaf community.

Seal was described by family as a loving father of four who went to every sports game, made camping trips feel like bold adventures and birthdays more special than the last, the Boston Globe reported.

In the first in the succession of memorial services on Nov. 3, Tricia Asselin, 53, was remembered as her family’s rock and her sister’s confidante, whose greatest source of joy was her only child, the Globe reported.

Asselin worked part-time at the bowling alley and had that night off but went bowling with her sister. She was a New England sports fanatic, an excellent athlete who worked multiple jobs and devoted her spare time to charities.

“Everything that she did in life was for her son. She loved him, and I want that love to carry on with her son,” Bobbi Nichols, her sister, said at the eulogy at East Auburn Baptist Church.

“She was special. She was my hero. She was a lot of people’s heroes,” Nichols said.

On Thursday, Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills created a panel to investigate the shootings. The same day, some victims and family members signaled their intent to sue with requests to 20 state and federal agencies to preserve evidence.

Critics have pointed to missed opportunities to prevent the tragedy because Card, of Bowdoin, had been known to law enforcement for months as family members and fellow reservists became increasingly worried about his mental state along with his access to firearms.


Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.