One of those killed in last week’s mass shooting in Lewiston was a Brunswick man who recently became a new father.

Billy Brackett, one of 18 people killed in a mass shooting in Lewiston on Oct. 25. Courtesy of Kristen Smith

Billy Brackett, 48, was killed Wednesday night when authorities say Robert Card burst into Schemengees Bar & Grille and opened fire, killing Brackett and three of his friends as they played in a cornhole tournament. The four men were deaf, and their loss left the state’s tight-knit Deaf community reeling.

“Our community is grieving,” said Karen Hopkins, executive director of the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf/Governor Baxter School. “Our Deaf community is extremely close-knit. We’re like family.”

Brackett left behind his wife, Kristina, and 2-year-old daughter, Sandra. He was a FedEx package handler and loved playing sports like cornhole and darts.

“He was just a gentle person,” his father, William, told The Associated Press.

Brackett was recently teaching his daughter how to fish.


“The attention span of a 2 1/2-year-old isn’t great, and if she got a fish, she didn’t want to touch it,” his father told The Associated Press. “But he was teaching her, and she was paying attention.

“That’s the way he was. … If it was your kid, he’d be doing the same thing.”

Brackett was a batboy for his high school baseball team and, as an adult, taught children how to play basketball as part of a recreation program. He was a longtime cornhole and darts player, participating in local leagues.

One of hundreds of people who donated to a GoFundMe campaign for his family said Brackett was a scorekeeper for local American Legion baseball games.

“(He) would sign to you when you had a great hit,” Nick Lawler wrote. “He was a gentle soul that loved the game more than anyone I knew in Auburn. He finally found a something he loved more than baseball a few years ago, his daughter Sandra.”

Joshua Seal, center, signs the message of Dr. Nirav D. Shah, left, as DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew listens from the right during a CDC briefing in Augusta. Andree Kehn / Sun Journal

His daughter had a hearing aid fitted when she was a few months old to hear for the first time, according to social media posts. She and Brackett’s wife are grief-stricken, according to his sister-in-law Kristen Smith, who organized the fundraiser, which had raised about $31,000 as of Monday afternoon.

“We are saddened by the tragedy of losing such a gentle soul,” Smith wrote on the fundraising page. “Billy was a son, a husband, a father, a[n] uncle and a friend to many especially in the Deaf community he loved so much. He loved darts, and has been competing for years … he loved cornhole, enjoyed fishing and hunting.”

Steve Vozzella and his wife, Megan. Courtesy of Maine AFL-CIO

Brackett’s friends, also killed in the attack, were Joshua Seal, a 36-year-old married father of four from Lisbon Falls who was director of interpreting services of the Scarborough-based nonprofit Pine Tree Society, which offers services and support for people with disabilities; Steve Vozzella, a 45-year-old married father of two from South Paris who was a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier; and Bryan MacFarlane, a 40-year-old who grew up in Maine, recently moved back to the state to be closer to his mother, who lives in Lewiston, and was one of the few deaf people to obtain a commercial truck-driving license.

Bryan MacFarlane. Courtesy of Keri Brooks

Members of the Deaf community have been organizing donation drives and meal deliveries for the families of the victims.

“Togetherness is what makes us strong,” Hopkins said. “The lives of all those lost in the shooting will never be forgotten. We are holding their families, loved ones and each other close to our hearts.”

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