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Lewiston bowling alley will reopen May 3, six months after mass shootings

Susan Sharon
/
Maine Public

On May 3, 2024, the Lewiston bowling alley that was one of two targets for the worst mass shootings in Maine history plans to reopen. Owners Justin and Samantha Juray made the announcement on Facebook this week. Final details are still being worked out but they intend to pick up where they left off: a family-friendly business, but with more community support than ever.

Inside Just-in-Time Recreation workers are testing out the brand new bowling equipment and scoreboards. It's a bee hive of activity and everything looks and smells brand new.

Justin and Samantha Juray were here the night of the shootings. They lost good friends, people they loved. Justin said it was a traumatic, lifechanging event and at first he couldn't imagine reopening, ever.

"A few days after, I was still against the idea. I didn't want to do it. I didn't think I could ever step foot in here," he said.

But then he said he felt the presence of Bob Violette, one of the 18 people killed at the bowling alley and at Schemengees Bar and Grille that night. Violette and his wife, Lucy, both in their 70s, had been longtime, devoted volunteers who coached a kids' bowling league. Lucy was also killed.

"I just felt him pushing me and telling me that, you know, that we needed to do this for the kids and he wouldn't, he wasn't allowing me to not reopen," Justin said. "And so we made that decision."

Since then, the Jurays said they've been touched by the outpouring of support they've received from Maine and around the country. They had only purchased the bowling alley in 2021. But for more than 30 years, it has been a place for kids to come for bowling-themed birthday parties and for adults to meet up with their friends. Many have shared their memories and their hopes for the future of the business in Facebook posts.

"So there was somebody who commented on there about how she had her first date with her now husband here," Samatha said.

"They're still together," Justin added.

"Yeah, just like hearing other peoples' memories and how they want to make new memories and just them sharing that is... awesome," Samantha said.

The Jurays said they're also grateful for the Community Resilience Center where they go for counseling, group therapy and get-togethers with others who experienced trauma. Justin said counselors have helped him with his anxiety and sleeping difficulties, and check up on him at random just to make sure he's okay. He's determined to move beyond the worst night of his life.

"I mean we can't live in fear," he said. "And this is our opportunity to offer a space for people to come and have a good time and be with family. It's tragic, but we can't let that define how we move forward."

Josh Dalfonso, the mechanic for the bowling alley, tests the new scoreboards.
Susan Sharon
/
Maine Public
Josh Dalfonso, the mechanic for the bowling alley, tests the new scoreboards.

"All the upgrades are going to be awesome for all the public but also make my life easier out back," said Josh Dalfonso, the bowling alley's mechanic and a longtime bowler himself.

Dalfonso said he's looking forward to getting back into his regular routine. That will happen after the grand reopening May 3. It's being planned with the city of Lewiston as a community celebration. And Justin Juray said he was heartened to learn that Bob and Lucy Violette's family is on board with the plans. He said when they stopped by to check out the new bowling alley refurbishments, including additional security cameras, the first thing they asked was, "What can we do to help?"