‘Pure and utter heartbreak’: Utahn worries for family, friends in Maine after mass shootings

Oct 26, 2023, 6:35 PM | Updated: 6:52 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah families with connections to Lewiston, Maine are feeling devastated by Wednesday’s mass shooting that left 18 dead and 13 others injured.

“The fact that it has now hit my backyard, it almost makes you feel like there is nowhere that is out of the reach of these kinds of tragedies,” KSL Newsradio reporter Adam Small said.

Small was born in Lewiston and grew up about 30 minutes away in Farmingdale. He moved to Utah after college.

“It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, there is nature, there are trees everywhere, people are nice, it’s consistently ranked one of the safest places in the country and when you see this (mass shooting) headline, Mainers aren’t used to that,” he said.

Small said many of his friends and family still live in areas surrounding Lewiston, he spent Wednesday night and most of Thursday checking in with them.

“I’ve been messaging aunts, uncles, cousins, friends,” he said. “Those are the messages that nobody should ever have to send.”

Small’s half-sister, Heather Kromer, lives approximately 100 feet from Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston, where the gunman opened fire killing 8 people.

“On the way out we heard what I thought were fireworks,” Kromer said.

She was taking her children to her mother’s house when she heard the popping. Thinking it was fireworks she continued the drive, only, she took a route away from the bar. “We would have gone right past the bar when it was happening, we would have seen him coming out if we had gone that way,” Kromer said.

She said she stayed with her mother Wednesday night and is now afraid to return home with the gunman still at large.

“I definitely don’t feel safe going back home tonight, even driving through the city I don’t know what to expect, he could be anywhere, and nobody really knows, it’s scary,” she said. “I called dispatch to just check if it’s okay and ask them if they would be willing to come inside the house to make sure.”

Small said he’s worried about his half-sister and her children, and the people of Lewiston.

“It’s horrible that something like this hit that group of people, they did not deserve this.” He said he’s trying to understand how this could happen to such a quiet community. “I’m heartbroken,” Small said. “Obviously there are so many different emotions that you can feel, but for me it’s pure and utter heartbreak and sadness that this is something that was 100% avoidable, and it still happened.”

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‘Pure and utter heartbreak’: Utahn worries for family, friends in Maine after mass shootings