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Lewiston residents are trying to recover from the deadly mass shooting

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Lewiston, Maine, is in mourning after the mass shooting there Wednesday night. Eighteen people are dead, and another 13 are injured. Several remain in critical condition. NPR's Joe Hernandez has our update.

JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: It's Saturday afternoon, about three days after the shooting, and Lewiston resident Terry Stibbards says things are finally starting to calm down.

TERRY STIBBARDS: Today, we just don't - we don't hear as many sirens by any means but a lot more street traffic and stuff. So it's good to hear the normal city noises.

HERNANDEZ: I met him just hours after the shelter-in-place orders were lifted by Maine officials and after investigators announced they'd found the body of the suspected shooter. Stibbards says the streets are a bit busier than they have been this week. Businesses are open. Kids are playing in the park across from Lewiston City Hall. People are walking their dogs and drinking coffee.

STIBBARDS: I think a lot of people are just seeking normal and relieved, you know?

HERNANDEZ: This week has been far from normal for Lewiston and the surrounding area. The deadly massacre in Maine's second-largest city shattered the close-knit community that almost everybody here says feels like a small town. Maine Governor Janet Mills said as much during a press conference late Friday night.

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JANET MILLS: This isn't us. Lewiston is a great place. It's a close-knit community of fine people.

HERNANDEZ: That sense of community was on full view Saturday afternoon on Lisbon Street. I stopped to talk to 21-year-old Gabe Hirst of Westbrook, Maine, who's handing out flowers to strangers.

GABE HIRST: Yeah, I feel like flowers are pretty - would you like a flower, sir?

HERNANDEZ: Hirst says even though he and his family aren't from Lewiston, as a Maine resident, he felt compelled to do something.

HIRST: I personally didn't know any of the victims, but it's a very small state. You know a guy who knows a guy. I know people that know them.

HERNANDEZ: Sheri Withers decided to open her Lewiston gallery and market on Saturday to give community members a safe place to go. She says she's felt an outpouring of support in the days since the shooting.

SHERI WITHERS: You know, my children's teachers were texting to make sure we were OK - the different businesses, co-workers. And so it just showed a lot of love.

HERNANDEZ: Withers had two friends in the shootings, one at the bowling alley and one at the bar. Both escaped with their lives, but an acquaintance of hers, Tom Conrad, was killed. She says Conrad was part of the craft brewing community in Lewiston and had worked with her and her husband.

WITHERS: So he was - you know, he was a very - very good with children at the bowling alley. And, you know, he was always a very chatty, talkative guy. So most people - you know, he had no problem just going up and, you know, striking conversation with people.

HERNANDEZ: The victims ranged in age from 14 to 76. Among them were a husband and wife and a father and son. Lewiston will continue to try to recover from this mass shooting in the days to come, and Withers says that persistent, caring and hardworking spirit Lewiston is known for might be what helps locals get through the crisis.

WITHERS: You know, it's been - it's always been a little rough here. But, you know, I love this community so much. And I think that's kind of what has brought us all together before all this, and I think it's what's going to keep us, you know, together going forward.

HERNANDEZ: Joe Hernandez, NPR News, Lewiston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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