Arthur Barnard plays in his late son Artie Strout’s pool league at Legends Sports Bar & Grill in Lewiston. On Oct. 25, Barnard left Schemengees shortly before a gunman entered, killing eight people, including Artie. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Just about every Thursday night, you can find Arthur Barnard at Legends pool hall in Lewiston.

On the Thursday before Christmas, the place is bustling. Kids run laps around the cavernous, carpeted sports bar. Fluorescent lights make the turquoise pool tables appear almost iridescent. People laugh and clink glasses. Top 40 hits blare from speakers mounted high on the walls.

First in an occasional series

Arthur, 62, arrives at 6:45 exactly. He doesn’t bother ordering a drink. He hangs up his coat and beelines for a pool table, where he will play solemnly for hours with his late son’s pool team, the New Crew.

The team is exactly what it sounds like, newly formed. It’s an eclectic group of pool fanatics of all ages, organized by a teenager. They got together in mid-September, hoping to make it to the league championship game in Las Vegas in March.

Arthur’s son Artie Strout was on the team for just a few weeks before he was killed on Oct. 25 at the age of 42 in Maine’s deadliest mass shooting.

Now, Arthur has taken Artie’s place and wants to help get them to the championships. He’s there in homage to his son.

Arthur Barnard talks to his daughter-in-law Kristy Strout while he plays in his late son Artie Strout’s pool league. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The weekly games have become a family affair. Artie’s younger brother Tyler comes most weeks just to help his dad warm up. Tyler and Arthur wear matching navy sweatshirts with Artie’s face on the back, In Loving Memory of Arthur Strout. Artie’s wife, Kristy, 36, doesn’t miss a game. On this particular night she sits in a corner with a friend, cheering them on. They’re easily the most engaged spectators at the bar.

“If y’all win, lunch is on me,” Kristy calls out to the group. “I’m their good luck charm,” she says. “Every time I come, they win.”


Kristy and Artie met 16 years ago, when he was 26 and she was 20. She was a single mom raising two young kids, Summer and Logan. Artie had Marcus and Mylo, from previous relationships.

They were friends first, and Artie was quick to jump in and help her however he could. Kristy fell for his easy confidence, the way he spoiled his kids, and his goofy laugh, an infectious giggle from somewhere deep in his belly. Artie was good at everything – chess, darts, pool. He could fix cars and computers. He was dependable and showed up when he said he would.

Kristy’s past relationships had been difficult and she was reluctant to trust somebody new. But when she was upset, Artie would tickle and tease her out of it. He was patient and kind and he made her feel safe. As the feelings between them started to grow, he’d curl his 6-foot-4 frame around her, gaze at her with his hazel eyes and say, “Come on, babe – you know we’re going to be together.” And she did.

They blended their families and had a baby of their own, Brianna. She turned 14 on Halloween, less than a week after her father was killed.

Kristy Strout holds her daughter Brianna during the One Lewiston community vigil at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Oct. 29, four days after Kristy’s husband and Brianna’s father, Arthur “Artie” Strout, 42, was killed along with 17 others in the largest mass shooting of 2023 in the United States. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

On an overcast Sunday just after Artie’s death, Kristy spoke about life without her husband. In those first days, it was still easy enough to imagine he might walk through the door at any moment. She sat at her cluttered kitchen table in Auburn with a tray of sloppy Joes on the stove behind her. She didn’t remember who made them. Family and friends cycled in and out, asking what she needed. Someone shouted from another room that the kids needed to start with showers before the family headed to a vigil. She spoke like someone under hypnosis like she only partly recognized the words spilling out of her.

“The best memory I have of him was when Brianna was born. Him holding Brianna for the first time and, and, and …” She couldn’t finish the thought. She switched gears to explain the details of booking a funeral, how the rate goes down the longer you reserve the space. She talked about how Artie loved Christmas, how he’d drive the family to see the lights and stop the car at the best displays so the kids could get out and enjoy them up close. She wanted each of her kids to have their own little urn to hold their dad’s ashes. But she was overwhelmed with picking them out. She didn’t know if they should all be the same or all be different. She couldn’t picture Artie split up into jars.

Kristy and Artie moved into their apartment in Auburn a year ago, just before Christmas. She described how excited they were for something new. They got rid of lots of old things: Christmas decorations, and too-small clothes, and bought their first set of matching dishes. They started a new collection of miniature Christmas villages, which they planned to set up together every year. Artie bought the kids new beds.

Kristy Strout watches a video of her father-in-law, Arthur Barnard, singing a song he wrote about Artie Strout and the mass shooting in Lewiston. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“He was super excited about decorating the kids’ rooms,” said Kristy. “The girls have big, huge beds in their rooms. Arthur said that they needed to have princess beds. That’s what Brianna still calls hers, a princess bed.”


On Thanksgiving, about 50 of Artie’s relatives gathered at his sister Jessie’s workplace in Lewiston – a nonprofit that supports adults with intellectual disabilities. The boxy building just off the highway has carpeted classrooms, kitchens, and a basketball court. That’s where the family set up their feast, the only space they knew big enough for all of them.

Kristy and her kids headed out first thing that day to Dunkin’. Then she drove them around town, killing time until the family gathering. She didn’t want them all to be sitting alone in the house.

Tyler cooked: three turkeys, nine pies, stewed cabbage (Kristy’s favorite), stuffing, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. He shuttled back and forth from his car with the big trays of food that he’d spent days preparing.

Kristy Strout serves food onto her daughter Brianna’s plate while her son Logan Palmer and daughter Summer Palmer stand in line up behind them at their family Thanksgiving. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Brianna, Summer, Logan and Kristy sat around a table draped in black cloth. Summer picked at a turkey leg and Brianna asked if the speakers could be turned up. They were playing Christmas music, her dad’s favorite.

“I can barely hear it,” she said.

Summer, who is 18, said being with the whole family for Thanksgiving was nice, but on Christmas, she wanted to be at home. “Because Arthur, we need to be where he was.” Her siblings nodded. The kids sometimes refer to Artie by his full name.

“His spirit’s in the house, I swear he’s trying to prank us,” Summer said. “Things are falling over randomly when I walk past them.”

“Yeah, when I’m like alone in the middle of the night, every time I hear walking in the kitchen … it used to mean Dad,” said Brianna. “That would usually make me freak out because I’d be on my tablet and then I’d be like, ‘Oh shoot, Dad’s coming.’ ” She mimes hiding something under her chair. “But I still hear the footsteps, only nobody comes.”

“You guys, that’s probably me,” said Kristy.

“Actually, I checked one time and it was absolutely no one,” said Logan, 17.


Kristy planned and held a funeral. She hugged hundreds of people in a receiving line while her kids sat nearby clutching weighted teddy bears meant to ease anxiety that were given to them by a local organization.

Photos of Artie Strout are shown on a screen while family, friends and community members attend his funeral services at Pinette, Dillingham & Lynch Funeral Home in Lewiston on Nov. 5. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

She hung poster board decorated with photos of her husband on the wall above the kitchen table. The wall used to have just one simple wooden sign that said home. Now home was bookended by Artie.

She took her kids to school and to grief counseling. She went back to work as a customer service manager at Shaw’s.

She watched grief wash over her kids in different ways. Logan was stoic. Summer shared her feelings on social media. Brianna watched YouTube videos of fathers and daughters together.

“I don’t know why she does it,” said Kristy, who lost her dad as a teenager too.

“That yearning for your dad when you need him, that’s a feeling that’s indescribable,” Kristy said.

Mylo Everett, one of Artie’s five children, spends a moment with their father’s urn during his funeral in Lewiston on Nov. 5. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

For the first month, Kristy’s 18-year-old niece Naveah came over every night just to sleep next to her. In the beginning, mornings were the worst. She’d wake up and, for a moment after she opened her eyes, forget. Maybe for only a second, or maybe for minutes, she’d get to live briefly, blissfully, in some dream universe in which Artie was alive, sleeping next to her, not split into five baby urns.

Then it would hit her, sometimes slowly like when she’d turn to see her niece’s tangle of dark hair on the pillow and wonder where her husband was. Other times the truth would crash into her like a train, and she’d remember all the horror, all at once.

“I just feel like what we built is broken in front of me, and now I have to put those shattered pieces back together,” said Kristy, a few days after the funeral. “If I think about it day to day, it’s not as scary. … If I think about all this time without him, forever without him, then I feel like I’m going to crumble. And if I crumble, then I’m not going to do my best for my kids.”


On Oct. 25, Artie was at Schemengees Bar & Grille with Justin Karcher, his eldest son Marcus’ best friend, practicing before their team’s game the next night. Arthur joined them. The three shot pool for a while before Arthur decided to leave. Artie and Justin said they’d stay for one more game. Less than 10 minutes later, Robert Card walked in and started firing. He killed eight people there, just minutes after he killed 10 others at Just-in-Time Recreation, a nearby bowling alley.

Outside Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston, Artie Strout’s photo joins those of others who were killed or wounded in the mass shootings on Oct. 25. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Artie and Justin were at a pool table near the door, so they were likely among the first shot. As they lay on the ground bleeding from bullet wounds, Justin told Kristy that Artie turned toward him. “It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK,” he said over and over, a thread for Justin – and maybe for himself – to hold on to. Then Card doubled back and sprayed him with another round of bullets. Silence.

Justin survived after multiple surgeries. Artie’s autopsy report hasn’t been released, but the funeral director told Arthur he had never seen anyone shot so many times.


Kristy for years has kept two lists, a bucket list and a list of fears. On her fear list: roller coasters that go upside down, spiders, high places. On her bucket list: touch a palm tree, hand-feed a giraffe, take a plane ride. Both lists were more or less fixed for years. No new fears, nothing crossed off the bucket list. Then Artie died.

Kristy had never thought to be afraid of losing her husband violently and suddenly. It had never occurred to her to fear planning his funeral alongside their daughter’s birthday party. She wasn’t ever frightened that one day she’d have recurring nightmares of her goofy, gentle husband dead on the floor of a sports bar, only to wake up knowing they were real.

Kristy Strout rides in the passenger seat of her father-in-law Arthur Barnard’s car on their way to a hotel in Woburn, Mass., on Dec. 4. The two were staying overnight in Woburn before a morning flight out of Boston Logan International Airport to attend an event for families of victims of gun violence in the nation’s capital. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

But since his death, she has left the Northeast for the first time. She’s met with members of Congress and the president. She took her first plane ride when she traveled to Washington, D.C., with Artie’s dad. On that early December day, when the plane rose up, pierced through the clouds covering Boston and sent unfiltered sunlight through the window, she let out a small, delighted gasp.

“I’ve always wanted to be up in the clouds, but dang – you go way up, I didn’t know we’d pass them, you actually go above them,” she said. She shook her head as if to clear it and started snapping photos to send her kids.

It’s the strangest part of this whole terrible thing, she says, that she is still here, crushed by loss but gasping at the beauty of sunlight above the clouds. She is in awe of her children’s strength and heartbroken that they have to be strong. All at once.

Arthur Barnard grabs his daughter-in-law Kristy Strout’s hand as they ride a shuttle to the Logan airport for their flight to Washington, D.C. That morning would be their first time on a plane. Kristy, the wife of Artie Strout, and Arthur, Artie’s father, were headed to the nation’s capital to attend an event for families of victims of gun violence and meetings with Maine’s congressional delegation. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“Nobody thinks they could do this. Everyone always tells me that,” she said. “But you do what you have to. I can’t explain it, I really don’t know, but you do.”


Artie’s name echoes through Legends on the Thursday before Christmas, as it has every Thursday since the shootings.

Kristy tells a friend he’d just bought her a pool stick and was teaching her to play.

The guys on the team say Artie was a great shot, always up for another game.

Tyler has a freshly inked tattoo on his forearm, with his brother’s birthday etched on a pool cue, his name on a rack holding pool balls.

Tyler Barnard at Legends Sports Bar & Grill in Lewiston. Barnard usually comes to the pool league games to watch his father play in place of his brother, Artie. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Arthur talks about how he taught Artie to play when he was about 8, on a big green pool table that once sat in their kitchen. He talks about the unfairness of his son’s death, and how easily it could have been prevented. He can’t let this part go.


In the days after his eldest son died, Arthur was consumed by despair. He couldn’t go more than a few minutes without breaking down.

He went over and over all the different ways that night at Schemengees could have played out. Maybe if he’d stayed he could have protected Artie. Maybe if he’d taken longer getting to his car when he left he would have seen Card pull in and somehow stopped him from getting inside the bar.

He’d wake up every day at 3 or 4 a.m., get in his car and drive around town, calling friends and family, sometimes a mental health counselor. Once he ended up in a Dunkin’ parking lot for nearly 5 hours. He was too upset to drive. He sobbed and sobbed, worried someone might see him and call the cops. The force of his grief scared him. He couldn’t control it.

Arthur Barnard drives to CVS to print a photo of his son to take with him to Washington, D.C. Driving is something Barnard does a lot. When he can’t sleep or needs time alone to process his grief, he drives. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Arthur is used to taking care of everyone, to offering help, not asking for it. He has a staggering number of responsibilities.

Including Artie, Arthur has seven kids. During the week he was preparing for Artie’s funeral, he was trying to get another son into rehab.

He commutes from Topsham to Portland a couple of days a week to cook at the Holiday Inn. He is a musician and plays gigs around town. He has custody of three of his teenage grandkids, Lexus, Emily and Jacob, and has raised them since they were toddlers. His ex-wife’s disabled cousin, Tracy, also lives in the two-story wooden townhome Arthur rents. So do his son Eric’s ex-girlfriend Christine and her 1-year-old, Leland. The baby has some health issues, so Arthur regularly takes him down to Boston Children’s Hospital. He makes sure Tracy gets to his adult education program each day.

Arthur wanted his grandkids and Tracy to have their own rooms in his home, so he moved his bed downstairs into the living room. Christine and Leland sleep on the couch a few feet away.

“The oldest and ugliest single mom in Maine” – that’s how Arthur describes himself. His grandkids call him Bumpa, and it’s plain to see they adore him. At Artie’s funeral, when he performed an original song and started to cry, they rushed to blanket him in a group hug and a chorus of “We love you, Bumpa.”

Arthur Barnard’s grandkids run up to embrace him after he finished performing a song at a celebration of life for his son Artie Strout. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“I love you guys so much,” he choked out.


Growing up, Artie didn’t have it easy. His parents separated when he was young. Money was tight. Addiction ran in the family. But he always had a special relationship with his dad. The two lived together in a first-floor apartment in Lewiston for a few years when Artie was a kid.

Artie always had a soft spot for animals and he begged his dad for pet rats. Arthur gave in and took him to PetSmart.

“He used to come in in the mornings and put them in bed with me,” said Arthur. “He’d say, ‘Wake up, Dad, they want to play.’ ” He laughed telling Kristy about the rats over dinner one night.

“He told me all about that. He was just like you with your stories,” she said.

The apartment had a living room with a TV and a big kitchen where Arthur set up the pool table. He’d put a piece of plywood over it before meals, and on that flimsy surface, he and Artie would balance slices of pizza and sodas.

They also spent hours playing pool at that table. Arthur showed 10-year-old Artie how to ricochet a ball from corner to corner. “You can sink a ball from any spot on the table,” he’d tell him.

Artie was a natural. And not just at pool. He was always a big kid, and Arthur remembers him being a bit clumsy in his middle school years. But, one day Artie’s uncle was teasing him and ruffling his hair.

Arthur Barnard horses around with his grandson Jacob Edwards, 14, while his granddaughter Lexus Pelletier watches, laughing, in their front yard on Dec. 20. Lexus and Jacob are two of the three grandchildren he is raising. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“And this kid, I don’t know where it came from but he just put on this big, goofy smile and he’s looking at my brother. All of a sudden he plants his feet and he kicks him with his heel up under his armpit and knocks him right on his butt,” said Arthur, laughing like he still can’t believe it. “I thought, where did that come from? It was a natural ability. After that, I’d work with him and help him learn to do these spinning heel kicks in case he ever did get into a situation.” Arthur remembers pressing his hands together and moving them above Artie’s head as a practice target.

Artie put his roundhouse kick to use once or twice. He was fiercely protective of his younger brothers, and the boys all loved to wrestle. Tyler said a typical greeting from Artie would be a shoulder to the gut and a body slam onto the couch or into the water, the nearest soft thing.

When Artie was in middle school, he got in with a rough crowd and Arthur was worried about him. He sent him away to a residential program for teenagers, where Artie got counseling. Arthur visited him there every weekend.

“Artie clammed up when he first got there, but he ended up opening up to staff and all the kids there, I was so proud of him,” said Arthur. “He found his way.”

Some of Arthur’s other kids have struggled throughout their lives. But Artie was a rock. Arthur could rely on him to pick up his nieces and nephews, to be there for his siblings and for him.

There was just a 20-year gap between father and son, and they became close friends, especially once they were both raising teenagers. They’d joke about the kids always slamming doors at home, about the girls wanting piercings.

“These kids were making us old,” said Arthur. “We were getting old together.”

Arthur Barnard closes the door to his son’s storage unit after he helped his daughter-in-law and other family members clean it out. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


As more and more details came out about Robert Card’s deteriorating mental health, Arthur found himself getting angry. Someone should have taken his guns; he’d hear this all over town. But he couldn’t help feeling that wouldn’t have been enough.

“He could have just gone out and bought another one in some parking lot or wherever,” he said. He knows people who have gotten guns this way.

He’d never been particularly politically active. The first time Arthur voted in decades was in the 2020 presidential election. But when his family had the chance to meet the Maine delegation and President Biden in a windowless school cafeteria about a week and a half after the shootings, he pulled aside Sen. Angus King.

“We have to do something about these weapons,” he said to King. They spoke for nearly 15 minutes.

After that, Arthur’s mornings became purposeful. When he couldn’t sleep, instead of driving around, he did research. He read about mass shootings all over the country. He learned what people meant by assault rifle. He became acquainted with Maine’s gun laws.

When he first learned how his son was shot, he felt broken. His thoughts would loop what the funeral director said. “The most times he’s ever seen. The most times he’s ever seen? The most times he’s ever seen.”

“Nobody should have access to these weapons. Nobody needs a gun like that,” he said over and over. It became his mantra.

One day, Arthur was at the resiliency center set up in Lewiston in the wake of the shootings, talking with some Red Cross workers about how loose Maine gun laws are. He said he wanted to do something about it.

“Ever heard of Fred Guttenberg?” someone asked him.

Arthur Barnard talks with Po Murray, co-founder and chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, as they walk past the Capitol building on Dec. 5. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


Less than a week later, Arthur and Kristy were on their first flight, to Washington D.C. to meet this man whose daughter was killed with 16 others at Parkland High School in 2018. Guttenberg had invited them to gather with other families like theirs from all over the country and to attend a vigil for victims of gun violence.

After a long day of navigating the airport, walking for miles around the city, and back-to-back emotional meetings with other families, they returned to their hotel around 5 p.m. Kristy was exhausted. Arthur paced, wanting more.

“I thought there were supposed to be other parents here? When do you think they’re arriving?” He sipped an energy drink as his eyes swept the lobby.

A few days later, after heading home on a midnight flight to Boston, Arthur pulled over at a highway rest stop so he and Kristy could sleep for an hour and a half. He dropped her at home, went to Costco, and then to the resiliency center to talk to a counselor. Back in Topsham, he started calling other parents he’d met in Washington. He sent national media organizations editorials he’d written on gun violence.

“I want to start a speaking series,” he said a week later. He spoke of going to public schools, and educating his community about the easy availability of guns and how often people lose their lives to bullets.

He said he still had a lot to learn. “I want to learn everything I can about these weapons. I want to be an expert so I know exactly what I’m talking about next time I’m in Washington.”

Kristy Strout and Arthur Barnard, top row right, stand with other Lewiston families and a victim during a press conference in Rep. Chellie Pingree’s Washington office Dec. 7. The group spent the day meeting with members of Maine’s congressional delegation, urging them to support an independent investigation by the Inspector General for the Department of Defense. From top left: Leroy Walker and Tracey Walker, father and wife of Joe Walker; Travis Brennan and Ben Gideon, attorneys representing the families and victims. Bottom row right: Alan Nickerson, who was shot at Schemengees; Elizabeth Seal, the wife of Joshua Seal, and her ASL interpreter. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Next time?

“Oh, I’ll be back,” he said. “This is the path I’ll be on probably for the rest of my life.”


Arthur says his grief feels like being on a lifeboat in a nor’easter. The waves pound again and again so hard you barely stay afloat and then mercifully they stop for a moment.

“You always know more are coming,” he said. “At first you think there’s got to be an end to it, that the waves are going to stop at some point. Now I don’t know if they ever will.” A miracle and a curse, those waves. Endless love and endless pain.

Arthur Barnard hugs his granddaughter Lexus Pelletier, 17, at their home in Topsham. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“There’s no coming back from this,” said Arthur. “For him or for me.”

But Arthur did come back from Schemengees that night, even though his son did not. He has six other kids, 20 grandkids, and a long list of people who depend on him.

“I can’t just sit at home and soak in my grief,” he said. “I said this the day after the shooting, I didn’t care what but I was going to find something to keep me going. Getting these laws changed is it.”


On a Monday in December, Kristy and Arthur drove to Dunkin’ together. They talked about their teenage kids.

“It’s like you’re telling me the same conversations that are going on in my house,” Arthur said as Kristy told him how she’d argued with the kids about going to school that morning.

“That’s what I’m dealing with,” Kristy said. She shook her head and smiled at her father-in-law.

“It’s the same for me. These kids have stomachaches every day,” he said. She nodded.

“It’s tough for all of them,” she said. He nodded.

Summer Palmer, 18, gets her father’s urn from Kristy’s bedroom on Dec. 29. Kristy wants to mount a shelf for the urn over the family dining table. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

This was what he used to talk about with his eldest son over pool, what Kristy used to commiserate with her husband about before bed: the mundanities of raising kids, of their day-to-day lives.

They fell into a comfortable silence as Arthur pulled into the parking lot.

“What do you want, love?” he asked, going to open his car door.

“Just my normal iced coffee. Don’t worry, I got it.”

She put a hand on his arm, then headed inside. Arthur didn’t want anything. The trip was for Kristy.

Arthur sat in the idling car, keeping it warm. He didn’t pick up his phone. He didn’t turn on the radio. He didn’t say a word about gun laws.

He closed his eyes and exhaled.

Arthur Barnard checks on his daughter-in-law Kristy Strout before he leaves to take his grandkids home after a celebration of life for Barnard’s son and Strout’s husband, Artie Strout, at Legends Sports Bar & Grill in Lewiston on Nov. 5. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

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