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Friday, April 19, 2024

Maine city councilor’s son died trying to stop mass shooting suspect with a butcher knife, father says

On Wednesday night, a gunman entered Schemengees Bar and Grill in Lewiston, Maine, as many were gathered to drink, eat and have fun with their friends. The suspected shooter, who has been identified but yet to be found, ended up killing at least eight people at the bar – including a man who tried to stop the gunman with a butcher knife, according to his father.

Joseph Walker was a manager at Schemengees. According to a verified GoFundMe set up by his daughter and wife, he had been there on Wednesday “to play cornhole with friends and family.” And when the gunman entered the facility, his father, Auburn City Councilor Leroy Walker, said his son didn’t hesitate to attempt to stop him.

“He picked up a butcher knife and went after the gunman to try and stop from killing other people,” Leroy Walker told CBS News Boston. “And that’s when he shot my son to death.”

The owners of Schemengees wrote on the Facebook of their second business, nearby Station Grill Restaurant, that Walker had made his way into Schemengees’ kitchen when the attack began.

“This man would give the shirt off his back to help a total stranger. But last night he gave up more than that, he gave up his life. … There is a door that he could have exited and saved his own life but not Joe,” they wrote on Facebook. “He grabbed a knife and went back out into danger to try and stop the shooter.”

The owners said they were upset, “but not surprised” by his actions.

“I can ask myself 100 times. Why not leave Joe. Please take the door and you would be here,” they wrote. “Joe would tell me that he would have to stop the shooter. That’s Joseph Walker, the man that I know. Putting everyone first. He will alway be our hero. Rest in peace my friend. You will be missed. We will love you forever.”

Schemengees customers seemed to have their own heroic stories of Joseph Walker. Just two weekends ago, one person commented, they overheard him offering a customer “anything on the menu” after he learned they were going through a difficult time.

Many described him as someone who was consistently smiling and made them laugh. When he found out another patron lost her boyfriend in what she says was a “freak accident,” she commented on the post that he “gave me a big hug” and checked on her every Sunday to make sure she was OK.

And it wasn’t just his employer and customers who considered Joseph Walker a hero.

“Unfortunately Joe did not make it, but know he went being a hero trying to protect his patrons,” his wife, Tracey Walker, wrote on Facebook. “I will forever hold him close to my heart. … this man changed my life for the better and would do anything for me his kids and grandchildren.”

Joseph’s father told CBS affiliate WGME that he “was a great son” who “did a lot of good things for a lot of good people.” He said he didn’t know what Joseph’s condition was for nearly 14 hours, and learned of his death around noon on Thursday. Joseph was one of eight people who died at Schemengees and one of at least 18 people killed when the suspected gunman entered the bar and a nearby bowling alley. At least 13 others were injured, officials said on Thursday.

“I know if my son were here with me, he would say that he’s sorry for all the others that were lost,” Leroy Walker told WGME. “The families that are going through what I’m going through right now.”

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