Mass Shooting Leaves Deaf Community in Pain and Unity

LEWISTON, Maine – This holiday season has been a difficult one for Liz Seal and her four children. In October 2023, her husband Josh was one of 18 people killed in a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. More than two months since the tragedy, Seal, who is deaf, shared that she, her family, and her friends are still grappling with the pain.

Despite the ongoing struggle, Seal and others in the community have come together to work on their healing process and honor those who were killed and hurt in the shooting. The incident, which took place at a bowling alley and a bar, claimed the lives of 18 people and left 13 others wounded. The suspect, a U.S. Army reservist, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound two days later.

Josh Seal, who was also deaf, was playing in a cornhole tournament at the bar with friends when the shooting occurred. Seal mentioned that she did not initially know that her husband was among those killed, and the situation was made more difficult as hospitals did not allow interpreters, leaving her and her family desperately searching for any word on her husband.

Seal’s husband was the director of interpreting services for The Pine Tree Society, a Maine-based nonprofit that works with disabled children and adults. Three of the other victims in the shooting were also deaf. Since the incident, the Deaf community has shown solidarity by frequenting the bar’s sister restaurant. This support has brought comfort to the bar’s owner, who is still reeling from the death of the manager who was inside during the incident.

Seal expressed her appreciation for the outpouring of support for the Deaf community since the shooting and mentioned feeling touched during a memorial where the whole community came together. The Maine Museum of Innovation, Learning, and Labor is currently working on an exhibit collecting memorial items to honor the victims of the shooting.

As the community continues to heal, Seal and her family find ways to remember and connect with their lost husband and father. The road to recovery for the city of Lewiston involves coming together and honoring those who were lost in the tragic event.