On Oct. 25, 18 people were killed and 13 others were injured in a shooting at a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine—with seven of the victims found dead at the bowling alley, there were eight who died at Schemengees Bar and Grille, a restaurant four miles away, according to The Associated Press. It was the country’s deadliest shooting of the year.
Every parent’s worst nightmare is finding out your child is involved in a mass shooting incident, no matter how old they are, and for Leroy Walker, that nightmare became a reality.
His son Joseph—whom he also calls Joe and Joey—was a manager at the second location targeted by the gunman, Schemengees Bar and Grille.
“Joe was a great, great son, a loving husband. He had two grandchildren and a stepson … thousands of people loved him,” Leroy Walker said of his son in an interview to MSNBC’s Ana Cabrera.
“What are we gonna do tomorrow, the next day? How are we gonna handle this?”
Walker learned more than 14 hours later that his son died a hero for trying to stop the gunman before he could shoot anyone else.
In an interview on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Walker recalled learning about his son’s killing and what the state police told his daughter-in-law.
Walker said the state police told her he died a hero because “…he picked up a butcher knife … and he tried to go at the gunman to stop him from shooting anybody else. The gunman shot him twice through the stomach.”
When asked by Holt if that changed his pain at all, Walker said choked up, “Oh, it made it worse. Yeah, it made it worse.”
Walker said in the interview with Cabrera that now his family is suffering and living in a nightmare they don’t understand.
The shooting has inspired at least one Maine elected official to reverse their stance on an assault weapons ban. Representative Jared Golden of Maine reversed his previous stance and now is calling for a ban on assault weapons. Senator Susan Collins has declined to back a ban on assault weapons, but instead says that lawmakers should look at banning “very high-capacity magazines,” The New York Times reports.
The The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued multiple statements supporting gun legislation and gun safety measures, including the banning of assault weapons.”Gun violence is a public health epidemic that is injuring and killing children at alarming rates. Any death from gun violence is one too many if it’s in your family or your community. We must implement common-sense solutions that have been proven to reduce these injuries and deaths,” the organization states.