LEWISTON — The Mills administration is seeking to cover the funeral costs of the 18 victims of the Oct. 25 mass shootings at a local bar and bowling alley, a spokesman for Gov. Janet Mills said Monday.

“Her administration is working to ensure that the families of victims do not have to bear any financial costs for the funerals of their loved ones,” Press Secretary Ben Goodman said. He said the funds are expected to come from Office of the Maine Attorney General’s victims’ compensation program and supplemented by funding from the governor’s contingent account.

Revenues for the victims’ compensation fund are generated through assessments levied against convicted criminals in Maine courts.

Leroy Walker Sr., whose son, Joe Walker, was fatally shot at Schemengees Bar & Grille on Lincoln Street, where he was manager, praised the administration Monday for its offer.

Leroy Walker talks to members of the media after meeting with President Biden and Jill Biden at Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston on Friday. Walker’s son, Joseph Walker, was killed at Schemengees Bar & Grille. He said Biden was very soft spoken and mostly listened to what families had to say. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“I think it’s really good that they’re doing this because it’s definitely going to help all these families out,” he said.

When his daughter-in-law, Tracey, met with a funeral home to discuss arrangements for her husband, she was told the state would pick up as much as $12,000 in funeral expenses per victim, Walker said.


“It’s gonna help the families that were wondering how they’re going to pay these expenses,” he said. “It’s very expensive today for any funeral. So, I think this allows them to have a good funeral, which I’m sure they would have anyways, but if they don’t have to worry about trying to find some way of cutting corners.

“There’s no words we can bring anybody back, but at least, it’s gonna help, you know, and it just takes that one extra pressure off people’s backs and not worry about it,” he said.

When Walker lost his daughter unexpectedly in a car crash, he had to borrow money to help pay for her funeral, he said.

“I hope the word gets out because there’s quite a few that have gone to the funeral homes and that are probably wondering how they’re going to pay for all” of the related expenses, “especially for the ones that are struggling anyway,” he said.

The funerals of seven of the victims had taken place as of Monday. Two more are scheduled to be held Tuesday.

The Hilton Garden Inn Riverwatch in Auburn posted on Facebook that it has teamed up with Dube’s Flower Shop Inc. in Lewiston “to provide floral arrangements for all 18 victims that we lost in our community in an effort to alleviate some of the financial burdens on the affected families.”


The post said that the partnership has reached out to funeral homes in the Lewiston and Auburn area, but understands that some of the victims’ families may be arranging funerals through homes outside the local area and urges folks aware of those situations to contact the flower shop or urge those funeral homes to reach out to the flower shop.

Meanwhile, Mills announced Monday that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved her request to make emergency financial assistance available to Maine businesses directly affected by the mass shooting that prompted shelter-in-place orders for two days, effectively closing local businesses in towns and cities in Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties during a search for the suspect.

Last week, the Mills Administration formally asked the SBA to issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration for businesses in communities that closed in accordance with the orders in Auburn, Lewiston, Lisbon and Bowdoin last month as law enforcement searched for the Lewiston shooting suspect, according to a media statement released by her office.

The Disaster Declaration issued Monday will make available low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to eligible small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private nonprofit organizations in Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties, as well as the adjacent counties of Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, and Oxford.

“I thank the U.S. Small Business Administration for quickly approving my request to help impacted Maine businesses,” Mills said in the statement. “I encourage eligible Maine businesses to apply for this relief. My administration will continue to look for additional non-loan support for businesses impacted by the tragedy in Lewiston.”

Staff Writer Christopher Wheelock contributed to this report.

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