The sister of one of the 18 people killed in the horrific double mass shootings in Maine Wednesday night described the devastating moment she lost sight of her sister in the chaos that followed the sound of gunshots.
Bobbi Nichols was bowling at Just-In-Time Recreation with her sister, Tricia Asselin, when a man armed with an assault rifle — believed to be Richard Card, who remains at large — stormed the family-friendly bowling alley in Lewiston and began shooting.
Asselin, a part-time employee at the bowling alley, had the night off but was competing as part of a league with her sister. Nichols made it out alive, but Asselin, 53, did not.
“We heard a loud noise and I wasn’t sure what it was until I heard another shot and then I knew,” Nichols told CNN in an emotional interview Thursday night.
Everyone began running out of the building and people were trampling over one another, she said. In the chaos, she lost track of her sister, who was bowling a few lanes over from here.
“I couldn’t see her and everybody was running and I got caught in people trampling,” Nichols said.
She said she made it out of the building but heard what sounded like more shots outside in the dark.
“We just kept running and running and running,” she said. “And it was dark out… I just ran as far as I could go until there was a fence and there were some trees and a bunch of us were hiding behind the trees wondering what was going on.”
When cops arrived, Nichols said they all came out of the woods with their hands up.
“[The cops] were telling us to keep walking and walking and I kept asking, ‘Where’s my sister? Where’s my sister? She’s in here,’” she said, breaking down. “I just wanted to be with my sister.”
Nichols said she had no idea where her sister was or that she had been shot.
“I didn’t know she was hurt until like two hours later,” she said. “Somebody came out and said that she called 911 and when she called 911 to save everybody, she lost her life because of it.”
Asselin, a mom who worked three jobs, reportedly ran to the counter to call 911 when the gunman shot and killed her, her family said.
“My sister’s a hero,” Nichols said. “She was a hero.”
Asselin leaves behind a son, who turned 25 the day before the shooting that killed his mom, Nichols added.
“He feels so lost,” she said.
Asselin’s brother DJ Johnson said her son was “her entire life — from the day he was born to yesterday.”
“She did everything for him… he was her world,” he told CNN.
Asselin was “the rock of the family” and “kept everyone on an even keel,” Johnson said.
“If there was an argument going on, she would be the one to calm everyone down,” he said. “If somebody was having a bad day, she would be right on the phone to talk to you about it.”
Johnson said he wasn’t surprised his sister was trying to help when she was killed.
“That was just her. She wasn’t going to run. She was going to try and help,” he said.
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