The family of one of the Maine shooting victims is breaking their silence, speaking out about the life and legacy of 42-year-old Arthur Strout after he was tragically gunned down in Lewiston last week.
Strout’s father, sister and brother joined “FOX & Friends” on Monday to discuss how they have been coping since learning about his tragic death and how they want the community to remember their beloved family member.
“It’s something that makes it hard to breathe,” his father, Arthur Barnard, told Ainsley Earhardt. “He was a goof. Tough… He was just a great kid. At 42, he was still just a kid.”
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“I guess the hardest part for me was I knew where he was in the place, and he was about 20 feet from the front door,” he said. “We were just right there at the front door, pretty much.”
Barnard was with his son just minutes before the shooter opened fire on Schemengees Bar & Grille where the pair were playing pool. Strout was married with five children.
The suspected gunman, Robert Card, was found dead Friday after a two-day-long manhunt by officials across a variety of law enforcement agencies. He is accused of opening fire at the restaurant and Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, killing 18 people and wounding 13 more.
Strout’s sister, Jessie Merrill, said her brother will be remembered as a “good person” within the mourning community.
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“He loved his family. He loved his kids. He was there for anybody who needed him,” she said. “It didn’t matter. Even if you are a family or friend… The kids all joke about how… Uncle Artie would come over and the first thing he would do is try to run and scoop him up for a hug.”
“And it didn’t matter which kid it was because he was so large that he could pick any one of them up, and he would just squeeze them, and then we would hear, ‘Uncle Artie, I can’t breathe,'” she continued. “Now we’re trying to explain to the kids that it’s okay that they ran, because now they’re saying, ‘I wish I didn’t run from it.'”
The family recalled the harrowing night Strout was killed, saying they initially thought he was being treated at the local hospital, but after they discovered he wasn’t there, they went to the reunification center, where they did not find him either.
It wasn’t until the next afternoon that the family was notified that Strout was among the deceased victims from the deadly shooting.
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“He’s always just been caring. He’s always, like my dad said, he’s always been there no matter what,” Strout’s brother, Tyler Barnard, said. “Any time you call him he’s usually answering the phone. If not, he’s calling back in 10 minutes, because he’s probably dealing with his kids.”
He echoed the others’ fond sentiment surrounding his caring nature and loving personality.
“The thing about Artie was… if I couldn’t be there for something, for someone in the family, it didn’t matter what he was doing. He would stop in and just step up,” Arthur said.
A GoFundMe to support Strout’s wife, Kristy, and their five children, has raised over $48,000 as of Monday.
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