Ben Dyer talks Monday at Lewiston City Hall about the night he was shot five times Oct. 25, 2023, at Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston. He was one of numerous survivors who spoke during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Ben Dyer wasn’t supposed to be at Schemengees Bar & Grille the night of Oct. 25, but he went to play cornhole when he was asked to fill in for someone who couldn’t make it for a game.

Dyer was shot five times that night by Robert Card, who killed 18 people and injured 13 others at Schemengees and another Lewiston business, Just-in-Time Recreation.

Dyer survived, and on Monday he sat before members of the state commission investigating the mass shooting and said more should have been done to prevent it.

“We can talk about lots of things, but the biggest thing is the mental health (concerns) were there,” Dyer told the commission, referring to warning signs that Card was paranoid and threatening violence. “People knew this was going to happen, and nobody stopped it.”

Dyer was among more than a dozen people who were at Schemengees or Just-in-Time during the Oct. 25 mass shooting and who testified Monday.

The survivors recalled the trauma and chaos of trying to figure out what was going on as the shooting unfolded, their memories of seeing Card walk in and start firing, and seeing friends and loved ones shot. They also implored the panel to do more to stop future mass shootings. And they said not enough was done to stop Card.


“I understand that Maine has a problem with mental health,” said Bobbi Nichols, who was at Just-in-Time the night of the shooting and lost her sister, Tricia Asselin. “Every state has a problem with it. There are not enough resources or counselors. And all these gun laws – the bottom line is you can pass 1,000 gun laws but if you don’t follow the protocol, why have them? This guy didn’t just show one or two episodes, this was a constant thing.”


Mike Roderick was at Schemengees with his 18-year-old son, Jack, to play cornhole that Wednesday. They were dressed in Celtics gear for the team’s opening night and Roderick had just posted a selfie of the two on Facebook when they heard the first few shots.

Roderick said people didn’t immediately realize what was happening. When they did, everyone started running and screaming. He followed the crowd into a small utility room. “Were the F is my son?” he yelled when he realized Jack wasn’t in the room with him.

Michael Roderick is patted on the shoulder Monday while returning to his seat after speaking at Lewiston City Hall during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting on Oct. 25, 2023. It was the first time he publicly told anyone that it was him who turned off the lights at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant during the shooting, which most likely saved many lives. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Roderick left the room as shots continued to ring out. He found Jack – who was hiding behind a wall and also survived. Once back in the utility room, he saw an electrical panel and shut off the lights to the building in an attempt to stop the shooter.

“My son will probably never get the sound of Robert Card reloading out of his head, or his face out of his memory,” Roderick said. “I know I will never forget Jack’s face in that moment. My only hope is that we can prevent others from having to suffer the nightmares and trauma that will plague us for the rest of our lives.”


Another survivor, Chris Dyndiuk, also was at the restaurant that night to play cornhole. Dyndiuk, who is deaf and testified through a sign language interpreter, told the commission some of his friends started to crawl across the floor as the shooting began, and Card shot them several times.

“It looked like he was about to turn to me when his gun got jammed so he had to take the magazine out,” Dyndiuk said. “When he did that, I ran past him and I could hear him firing more times. I ran, but I felt like he was going to hit me in the back any minute.”

Chris Dyndiuk pauses for a moment Monday as he recounts his experience during the mass shooting in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. He was one of numerous survivors speaking at Lewiston City Hall during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting Oct. 25, 2023. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Dyndiuk made it to his car outside. He saw one friend lying on the ground outside the door with a big hole in his neck and shoulder and tried to help him. He saw a police officer, and told them they should call an ambulance.

“They said, ‘No, we have to look at other people as well,’ and I lost my mind,” Dyndiuk said.


Some survivors who testified Monday said they knew Robert Card personally, from playing cornhole with him at Schemengees.


Jason Barnett said Card had been his cornhole partner a few times at Schemengees and other venues. He said the shooting could have been prevented.

“See something, say something,” he said. “Who’s at fault here? People did say something. It was missed. It was ignored. So why do we see something, say something?

“That’s the first question you need to ask yourselves. Who dropped the ball?” Barnett asked, mentioning the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, the Army Reserves and the New York psychiatric hospital where Card was treated last summer.

Other people who testified Monday expressed frustration with an inadequate mental health system or said Maine’s yellow flag law, which allows police to seek court orders to remove firearms from people experiencing a mental health crisis, failed. One woman lamented that she didn’t have a gun with her to defend herself.

The meeting came as the Legislature is taking up a slate of gun safety and mental health proposals in response to the shooting. Those include a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases, a ban on bump stocks that make semi-automatic rifles fire like machine guns and funding for a network of mental health crisis centers.

Travis Brennan, an attorney representing most of the people who testified Monday, said it’s too early for them to reach consensus about what steps or actions should be taken in response to the shooting.


“Before you can figure out how to ‘plug the holes,’ as we heard, or fix the system, you need to really understand comprehensively all the places the system was broken,” Brennan said. “I think there’s a sense right now that it’s premature in some ways to figure out specific proposals without all the facts.”

Brennan said there are still unanswered questions about Card’s hospitalization in New York while on a training trip with his U.S. Army Reserve unit, his mental health diagnosis, what the military knew at the time he was discharged from the hospital and what U.S. Army protocols should have been followed in response. The U.S. Army Inspector General also is conducting an investigation into Card and his Army Reserve unit’s actions preceding the mass shooting.

“We think that’s really critical as a first step before you can figure out what specific initiatives can be adopted to prevent something like this,” Brennan said.


The commission, which was appointed by Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey, is tasked with investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting, including the months preceding the shooting and the police response to it. Monday was the latest in a series of public meetings focused on gathering testimony from police, family members of victims and others.

The commission will meet again Thursday, in Augusta, to hear from members of the U.S. Army.


The Legislature and Mills have given the commission subpoena power so it can compel any testimony or documents it might need, though it’s unclear if the commission has issued any subpoenas yet. A spokesperson for the commission did not respond to a phone message or email after Monday’s meeting seeking information on whether any subpoenas have been issued and if so, for whom.

In response to a question from a victim during the meeting on Monday, Chair Daniel Wathen said the commission plans to interview Card’s family. He would not say afterward if the commission has met with the family yet and said it could happen privately.

Many of the commission’s questions during the meeting were focused on what kind of mental health support survivors have been able to access. Several said they are in therapy. For some it has helped, for others it hasn’t been enough.

Bobbi Nichols wipes away a tear as she talks Monday morning in Lewiston City Hall Council Chambers during a public hearing before the state panel investigating the mass shooting Oct. 25, 2023. Her sister was killed at Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Numerous survivors and family members testified about what they went through on that night and in the following months. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Nichols said she has been in counseling but is at a point where it’s not working for her. “I’ve had a lot of grappling with what happened that night,” she said.

Tammy Asselin, Tricia Asselin’s cousin, said she was given a list of mental health support services after the shooting but “a lot of it was for four to six sessions or very temporary circumstances.”

She said she didn’t successfully get help until the middle of December. “It was very frustrating for most of us to try to find (help) and for those of us who had to wait, for a variety of reasons – personal choice or what have you – by the time they had decided to look for those resources it was so difficult,” Asselin said. “They could not find somebody available to do long-term.”

Andrew Chessie, who was at Schemengees the night of the shooting, said he has been seeing a therapist and going to group therapy.

“But my life is changed,” he said. “I’m constantly on edge and constantly checking my surroundings. I’m getting better, but I feel this event will always be with me.”

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