MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Tennessee State Representative who attended college just outside of Lewiston, Maine, says the overnight mass shooting in the small town is yet another reminder regarding the impact of gun violence within our communities and across the country.
Those living in Lewiston, Maine were told to shelter in place after the gunman in a mass shooting went on the run Wednesday night.
Memphis to Maine is separated by nearly 1,500 miles. But it’s a place that will forever be near and dear to Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson.
Pearson is familiar with the small Northern city as it is located not far from where he attended college a few years back.
“It really is heart-wrenching and devastating that this is happening, especially for this to be in a place where I went to school. I went to college in Maine,” said Pearson.
He spent his college years in Brunswick, Maine, less than 20 miles outside Lewiston, a small community of less than 40,000 people, according to the latest census. A community which is now at the center of the nation’s latest mass shooting.
“This is not okay. It’s not normal, and it’s not the way things have to be, especially knowing those shot by the lone gunman were taking part in something so normal, enjoying Wednesday night at a restaurant and bowling alley when chaos suddenly erupted,” said Pearson.
Pearson says that it is the responsibility of people in government to do something to prevent tragedies such as Wednesday night’s shooting from happening in the first place.
“We should be safe going bowling, or to the movie theatre, or church, or to school, or a bank,” said Pearson.
The representative points to the Tennessee Special Session held in August, just 5 months after the deadly Covenant School Shooting outside Nashville that claimed the lives of six people, three children, and three adults.
This has been an extremely violent year. Locally, the Memphis Police Department recently reported a 25 percent increase in murders.
“We experience gun violence nearly everyday in this city,” said Pearson.
Nationally, the latest round of violence that claimed the lives of more than a dozen people, with many more injured, marks the 565th mass shooting for the year across the nation, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
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“18 funerals, at least, are about to happen in Maine,” said Pearson.
Representative Pearson says that the angst and anxiety those in Maine are experiencing is felt often on the streets of Memphis.
“I encourage everybody to pray, but also to do the justice of helping to end this gun violence epidemic,” said Pearson.
WREG reached out to the Shelby County Republican headquarters to see if they wanted to issue a statement, but we are still waiting to hear back.
At last check, a widespread manhunt was still underway for the 40-year-old gunman identified as Robert Card.