First victim of Maine massacre identified as hero dad, 76, killed 'protecting children at bowling alley where he taught'

26 October 2023, 19:28

Bob Violette is the first named victim of the Maine massacre
Bob Violette is the first named victim of the Maine massacre. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Will Taylor

The first victim of the Maine massacre to be publicly identified has been named as a hero father who died trying to save children.

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Bob Violette, 76, a bowling instructor, was teaching youngsters at Sparetime Recreation when the gunman launched his rampage.

His daughter confirmed he was killed in the shooting, alongside 17 others.

He was reportedly killed while trying to protect the children he was instructing.

Read more: 'Why do people do this?': Girl, 10, shot in leg in gunman's rampage speaks of ordeal as 18 killed at Maine bowling alley

Co-worker Brandon Dubuc said Violette was "so kind and he was always super understanding. He was very patient with everybody."

He said Violette had helped with the youth league at the bowling alley for "as long as I can remember... there wasn't a kid that he wouldn't help. He was just always a warm presence."

Violette was born and raised in Lewiston and was a keen bowler. He had a wife of 50 years, Lucy, who he took up the sport with as a post-retirement hobby.

She was also injured in the shooting but her condition is unknown.

He has three sons and six grandchildren, according to Lewiston's Sun Journal.

Violette was killed in the shooting
Violette was killed in the shooting. Picture: Handout

Previously, he worked as a mechanic.

His daughter-in-law Cassandra said: "He wouldn't let you walk out the door without giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He was just there for everything."

Seven people were killed at Schemengees Bar and eight were killed at Sparetime Recreation, Maine State Police said.

In an update on Thursday afternoon UK time, state officials was confirmed 18 people had died and 13 are injured.

The shooter, suspected to be former US Army reserve instructor Robert Card, launched his rampage in the Maine city of Lewiston on Wednesday evening.

He is still at large and "armed and dangerous" amid a massive manhunt.

The gunman is thought to the Robert Card, a former army instructor
The gunman is thought to the Robert Card, a former army instructor. Picture: Alamy

Card, 40, should not be approached "under any circumstances", Maine governor Janet Mills said. He faces eight counts of murder.

He used to be a firearms trainer at a US army base, before being sent to a mental health facility after he began hearing voices.

No motive has been identified.

Police officers speak with a motorist at a roadblock in Lisbon, Maine during the manhunt
Police officers speak with a motorist at a roadblock in Lisbon, Maine during the manhunt. Picture: Alamy

A children's event was taking place at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting.

"I never thought I'd grow up and get a bullet in my leg," Zoey, 10, told CNN.

"Why? Why do people do this?"

Meghan Hutchinson, her mother, said: "She was grazed by a bullet while we were running."

Survivors have described how they escaped by fleeing down bowling lanes and hiding behind pins as the gunman used an AR-15-style rifle to open fire while children were playing. Children are among at least 60 people who were injured in the shooting.

One bowler, who only identified himself by his first name Brandon, said he heard 10 shots ring out before he ran down the alley barefoot and climbed inside the bowling machinery to hide from the gunman.

He said: "We were inside, just a normal night of bowling. Out of nowhere he just came in and there was a loud pop.

"I thought it was a balloon, I had my back turned to the door. And as soon as I turned and saw it was not a balloon, he was holding a weapon, I just booked it down the lane and I slid basically in where the pins are and climbed on the machine."

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