James Barron helps his daughter Aubrielle, 14, light candles at a vigil in Lisbon on October 28 for the lives lost in the Lewiston shootings. The Barrons, who live in Lisbon, wanted to come to support the victims and their families. The family’s two youngest daughters play on a field hockey team with someone who lost a loved one in the shootings. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services has received a $2 million federal grant to support behavioral health and build community wellness following the mass shooting in Lewiston last October.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and will supplement other state and federal funding for the response.

“This federal grant will catalyze Maine’s response to the significant behavioral health needs of those directly and indirectly impacted by the tragedy in Lewiston,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.

The four members of Maine’s congressional delegation issued a joint statement about the funding.

“In the wake of last year’s horrific shooting in Lewiston, this emergency funding from SAMHSA will help meet the mental health needs of those impacted by this tragedy,”  they said. “The people of Maine are resilient. While nothing we can do will bring back the lives lost, we will continue to work together with our state and federal partners to help ensure that Lewiston and surrounding communities have the resources and support needed to heal and recover.”

Eighteen people were killed and 13 wounded when gunman Robert Card entered two gathering places with high-powered firearms and began shooting. Card later took his own life, but the two-day manhunt left Lewiston and most of the surrounding communities on edge.


In the aftermath, there has been significant discussion about mental health resources, access to firearms by those in mental health crisis and more. A state commission has been meeting regularly to discuss the circumstances of the shooting and to determine what can be done to prevent future tragedies.

DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said priorities for the federal funding are based on input from partners following a series of listening sessions that included behavioral health providers, health care systems and members of the deaf community. Four of the shooting victims were deaf.

Maine Shooting

Robert Card

“Following the tragedy in Lewiston, we immediately set to work developing a plan based on input from Maine residents, communities, first responders, experts, and others to support ongoing behavioral health needs in the wake of the largest mass shooting in Maine history,” she said.

One of the major aims of the funding is to increase the number of on-the-ground behavioral health professionals available to engage in mobile crisis outreach, peer harm reduction, and supporting first responders in de-escalating emergency calls.

DHHS will use some funds to leverage its StrengthenME platform to help amplify awareness of existing behavioral health resources through tailored and targeted messages that help normalize and destigmatize reaching out for help with mental health.

Card suffered from worsening mental health in the months leading up to the shooting, and despite pleas from family members and others to get help, no one was successful.

Finally, the grant will support the development of a website that consolidates community-developed and accessible information for members of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community that was particularly hard hit by the Lewiston tragedy.

“Maine’s Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing community was shaken to the core by the tragedy that took place on October 25,” said Matt Webster, Grant Administrator, Maine Association of the Deaf. “We had to push through the grief and move into action. We have collaborated closely with Maine DHHS to ensure that this grant will provide greater resources toward raising awareness about our community, and our distinct needs, and to ensure that we have an equal voice at the table, as we all work to build resiliency and support for the months and years ahead.”

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