LEWISTON, Maine (WJHL) — A Bates College student from Kingsport, Tennessee sheltered in place on campus after receiving an emergency alert due to the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday night.
Bryan Kirk is a senior majoring in environmental studies with a concentration in international politics. He transferred from Northeast State Community College in the summer of 2022.
The shelter-in-place alert came after a now-deceased gunman went into a restaurant and bowling alley, killing 18 people and wounding 13.
The Bates College campus received an all-clear status as of 9:50 p.m. on Friday after the gunman was found dead.
Kirk said Lewiston is a tight-knit community and that he didn’t imagine a tragedy like this happening there.
Kirk said he received the active shooter alert on Wednesday night sometime after his rugby practice. He began messaging fellow students in his group chats.
“I started messaging those and telling people, you know, if you’re out, get back to campus,” Kirk said. “If you need a ride just put it here, someone will pick you up. We’re just trying to get everybody back to campus.”
Kirk said there was a heavy police presence and a lot of air traffic in the area.
“You could hear sirens all over the place from downtown,” Kirk said. “I’m about probably about five or six blocks from the areas, I guess maybe a little bit farther. But it was close enough. There was just sirens everywhere. I’ve never heard so much police presence in my life.”
Kirk said he contacted his family to let them know what was happening and that he was safe.
He said students were allowed to leave their dorm buildings once a day to go to the dining hall for takeout during the lockdown.
“Most of my friends that are in my group chats are in my clubs,” Kirk said. “So we’ve just been reaching out there. We’ve been playing online games together. We’ve been keeping ourselves amused and in good company.”
Classes for Thursday and Friday were canceled and assignment dates were deferred at Bates College, Kirk said.
He said the college has offered online counseling services and plenty of mental health resources as well. He said many people have been checking in with each other online.
“I was on a community Zoom group with a place where I do some work downtown, a prayer group,” Kirk said. “We had roughly 60 people on that, all different walks of life, from the immigrant community, from the Mainer community, lot of people coming together over this.”
Kirk said they’re trying to figure out how to bring peace and comfort to the community in the aftermath of the shooting.
“This town here and Maine in general, it almost feels a bit separate from the rest of the United States,” Kirk said. “It’s pretty self-contained in a way. The people here, they can come across as a bit gruff, but they are often some of the nicest people that you will meet.”
He said a lot of people in town even leave their doors unlocked.
“It’s a tragedy, there’s no other way to put it,” Kirk said. “So if anyone back home would like any real concrete way, if they’re eager to help, you know, I would say initially send us your prayers.”
Kirk said there is a lot of discussion surrounding this event about mental health.
“And it’s important to highlight that we can all help with this issue,” Kirk said. “Search for volunteering opportunities locally. Call your friends and family. Donate unused clothes to shelters. Be genuinely nice to those you interact with. Don’t just post something on social media in support of mental health awareness, because it’s too easy to do something that makes a good impact in your community.”