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One family's anguish: Their grandfather was killed and their grandmother is missing

Heart-shaped cut-outs with messages of positivity adorns trees in downtown Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. The signs are some of the 100 hearts put up by Miaa Zellner of Turner, Maine, to show her love and support for the community in the wake of Wednesday's mass shootings.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Heart-shaped cut-outs with messages of positivity adorns trees in downtown Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. The signs are some of the 100 hearts put up by Miaa Zellner of Turner, Maine, to show her love and support for the community in the wake of Wednesday's mass shootings.

We're starting to learn more details about some of the 18 people killed in Lewiston Wednesday night, the worst mass shooting in Maine history. At a news conference Thursday morning, police said they were still trying to identify ten of the victims. And for families who lost loved ones or who are awaiting word about whether they've survived, the pain is especially acute.

Bob and Lucille Violette, both in their 70s, bowled every week, like clockwork, according to their former daughter-in-law, Jessica Dubois of Leeds.

"He runs the youth bowling. He's the one who started it. And Lucy bowls on Wednesdays," Dubois said.

So, Dubois said when she started seeing Facebook messages Wednesday night about a mass shooting at the Just-in-Time Recreation Center in Lewiston, she knew the couple would be there for youth bowling league and she was instantly afraid.

"And I knew, pretty much automatically that Bob would be one to get shot because he's a hero, he's a protector and a veteran," she said. "So I knew, for sure, that he would throw himself in front of children and his wife."

Dubois said she later learned from her former sister-in-law that Bob had been killed trying to save people around him. As a devoted coach, she said he wouldn't have hesitated to risk his own life. But, despite the family's desperate search of hospitals, calls to local officials and a visit to a family reunification center in Auburn, they still can't locate Lucille and they don't know what her condition is.

"One of the things that we had heard is that Lucy got shot in the back but we don't have any information on that, so we don't know," she said.

Dubois said the Violettes are kind and gentle people and devoted grandparents to her two kids, ages 13 and 15. And that was another difficult task she's had to contend with: telling both kids the news. She said her daughter confronted her early this morning after finding out there was no school.

"She got up at six and she came in and said, what no school today? I said no. She said because of the shooting? And I said yes and she went into the bathroom and then she came flying back out and said, did grandpa get shot? And I said yes, honey, he did....so that was very difficult," Dubois said.

Like so many others in Maine today, Dubois said she and her children are struggling with grief and the frightening revelation that even one of the safest states in America is no longer immune to gun violence on a massive scale.

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