Samantha and Justin Juray were overseeing a packed family night at their bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, when the unthinkable happened on Wednesday night. A man walked through their decorated glass doors with a high-powered rifle and started shooting.
“I was there, front and center,” Samantha, 34, tells Rolling Stone. “It was nothing imaginable at all. It was the worst thing ever.”
The gunman stalked through the brightly lit property as surveillance cameras captured his rampage. He would murder seven victims in cold blood – and send dozens more fleeing in terror – before moving on to continue his mass-casualty massacre at Schemengees Bar & Grille about four miles away, where he would fatally wound 11 more, authorities said.
The stunning shooting has rocked Lewiston’s close-knit community to its core, turning the family-friendly Just-In-Time bowling alley, described by many as a “staple” of Maine’s second-largest city, into an unspeakable crime scene.
“It was place where families would come together and raise their children. It was a safe place, an absolutely safe place, all until last night,” Samantha says. “Everybody that was in there (Wednesday) was family. I knew every single person in there.”
She confirmed one of her husband’s cousins set up the GoFundMe fundraiser to benefit the bowling alley attack victims and their families. “We’ll take the money and give it to the families for funerals or the children left behind by this devastating, absolutely devastating night,” she says.
Asked what she and her husband planned to do in the days ahead, she said it was too soon to even contemplate re-opening.
“We have no plans as of yet. We have to wait to even go back in there. I’m in no hurry,” she says, her voice heavy with emotion. “We’re thankful for this small community. We will all rally together.”
She then broke down: “I’m just so deeply sorry to everyone involved.”
By the time the Jurays bought their bowling alley in 2021, it was already a beloved venue for birthdays, bowling leagues, private parties, and even dances hosted by local schools, Lewiston residents tell Rolling Stone. They said it was the last place they expected such a nightmare to unfold.
Dan Langlois, 48, bowled at Just-In-Time as a teen, back when it was called Sparetime. He then bowled there in the adult leagues and visited with his kids, too.
“It’s a staple for the community, a place where kids and families go to have a good time. It was great. I can’t believe this happened there. It’s so crazy. We have our fair share of crime here, but you don’t see heinous crime like this,” he says.
For Ken Wagner, the venue was a place where he enjoyed candlepin bowling with his kids — the variation, which uses smaller balls and pins, is common in New England — going back to the 1990s. More recently, he celebrated New Year’s Eve there and was in a candlepin league. He would have been there Wednesday night when the shooter arrived if his league hadn’t been canceled a few months prior. He said the machines were too expensive for Just-In-Time to maintain.
“By the grace of God, I wasn’t there,” the 72-year-old retired pharmacist tells Rolling Stone. He said one of his friends was shot while helping kids escape but was expected to survive. Two other friends were killed, he said. (Rolling Stone is not naming the friends, pending family notification and confirmation by authorities.)
“It was a family — a big family. Everybody knew everybody,” Wagner said of the bowling alley. “We’re the second biggest city in Maine, but we’re still a small town.”
One survivor told the New York Times he was in disbelief when the shooter started firing at the lanes closest to the entrance.
“I thought it was, like, a table crashing on the floor or something,” Chad Vincent told The Times of the initial sound of gunfire. “Nobody really screamed. Nobody knew what it was.”
A few seconds later, one of his bowling league partners said, “Hey, that’s a gun! That’s gunshots!”
Vincent, 45, escaped out a back exit and called 911. He told The Times that a man who tried to stop the shooter didn’t survive. He said the incident seemed incomprehensible.
“We’re going: ‘This is Maine,’” he said. “This is not happening. This stuff doesn’t happen in Maine. Everybody’s nice. We usually don’t have problems.”
“None of this seems real, but unfortunately it is,” a statement on Just-In-Time’s Facebook page reads. “We are devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and wholehearted people from our bowling family and community last night. There are no words to fix this or make it better. We praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”
At the time of publication, the shooting suspect, identified by authorities as Robert Card, is still at-large. A massive manhunt is currently underway.