LISBON FALLS, Maine — Close friends of a Maine mass shooting victim’s father had to break the tragic news of his son’s death to him, they told The Post during a Saturday night vigil for the 18 victims.
Gary, 65, and Donna Totman, 63, found out online Maxx Hathaway was fatally shot while playing pool with a friend inside Schemengees Bar and Grille, the second of two locations where gunman Robert Card unleashed the violence.
Hathaway’s father, Rob, called the couple desperately hoping for answers as the tragedy unfolded.
“We had to tell him because he didn’t know,” Gary told The Post.
“He called us and asked what was going on up here and I had the hardest time trying to tell him. (Donna) ended up finally saying it to him that he lost his son. Right after we hung up, he saw the news. He saw his son’s name on the news.”
Preventing their lifelong friend from learning about his horrifying loss from the news or social media was precisely the goal of the Totmans — who took Hathaway and his father on his first-ever fishing trip.
“His dad broke down. He was crying and very upset…They’re heartbroken,” Gary Totman said of the family.
Rob Hathaway initially worried that his granddaughters had also been caught in the bloodbath.
Maxx Hathaway had been at the bar with his wife, who is eight months pregnant with their third daughter, but she left moments before Card arrived because their toddler daughter was getting “fussy.”
“The toddler was being fussy and the mother took the toddler home … The toddler being fussy saved three lives — saved the mother, the baby in her stomach and herself,” Gary Totman said.
“There’s a little young mother that’s got to raise her children without their dad.”
‘This was so senseless’
The Totmans were among hundreds of mourners who packed the waterfront in Lisbon Falls for a solemn vigil — a day after cops found Card, 40, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The grieving locals held candles and bowed their heads as a pastor named the 18 victims: Ronald Morin, 55; Peyton Brewer Ross, 40; Joshua Seal, 35; Brian MacFarlane, 41; Joseph Lawrence Walker, 57; Arthur Fred Strout, 42; Maxx Hathaway, 35; Stephen Vozella, 45; Thomas Ryan Conrad, 34; Michael R. Deslauriers II, 51; Jason Adam Walker 51; Tricia Asselin, 53; William Young, 44; Aaron Young, 14; Robert Violette, 76 and Lucille Violette, 73; William Frank Brackett, 44; and Keith Macneir, 64.
Soleil Gibbs, 35, went to high school with Maxx Hathaway and remembered him as a “truly genuine person.”
“He’s one of those people that it doesn’t matter if you see him for years. You’d see him and catch up,” she told The Post.
Jo McDougall, 63, a Lisbon resident, worked at a Sears in the 1980s with victim Bob Violette, who was killed alongside his wife, Lucy, at the Just-In-Time bowling alley.
“It was a small enough group that we were a family,” she said.
“He was a good guy. It made an impact because this was so senseless.”
Violette — who was recently inducted into the Maine Bowling Hall of Fame — was a longtime bowling instructor who was teaching youth league at the alley when the shooting started.
He bowled at the venue most mornings during the week and was in a couples league with Lucy.
“He was an even-tempered, nice guy. He was passionate about bowling. He was even considering going professional at one point,” McDougall said.
“Bowling was kinda his life beyond his family.”
At the end of the vigil, dozens of mourners held onto one another and sang “Amazing Grace.”
The ceremony came just 24 hours after police found Card’s body inside an unlocked trailer at the Maine Recycling Corporation in Lisbon, where he used to work.
He appeared to be wearing the same clothes he had on during his Wednesday rampage and had two firearms at his side.
Asked by The Post why Card shot himself at his former job, Lisbon Police Chief Ryan McGee said it was a mystery.
“I have no idea. He wasn’t fired. He quit, he left there …. It doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever,” McGee said.
“He obviously parked that car at that boat ramp and then evaded us for a mile to get where he was at. If he was going to commit suicide, I don’t know why it wouldn’t have been done the second it got there.”
“Why go a mile away? I don’t know if it was pressure from all the law enforcement we had containing in the area. Really there was nowhere else to go. The farthest he could go was where he was at. He couldn’t go any farther if that was the case.”
Police had swept and cleared the recycling plant two times during the two-day manhunt, but did not check another part of the company’s land nearby.
McGee defended his officers, saying they had diligently scoured the area despite initially neglecting the gory trailer.
“We didn’t miss. We did go through that parking lot. There were officers that went through that parking lot,” said McGee.
“But there’s different types of searches. So you have an active search where you are checking broad areas and then you also have grid pattern searches. So you have to understand that you have a huge industrial park with multiple tractor-trailers all over the place. The whole industrial part, that mild stretch of land to check every single crevice would take a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t be overnight. Also people can hide anywhere.”