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Maine highway shooting victims are healing and grateful but confused

Police say a 34-year-old man confessed last week to four killings at a home in Bowdoin and injuring three people while shooting at vehicles on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth

Sean Halsey
Sean Halsey, right, who was injured along with his children in a shooting in Maine last week, speaks at a news conference in Portland, Maine, Friday, April 28, 2023.Patrick Whittle (AP)

The father of two of the victims of a deadly shooting rampage in Maine said Friday he and his children are recovering from their injuries and grateful for the support they’ve received from the community. The family is also still baffled why such violence befell them while they were driving down the highway.

A 34-year-old man confessed last week to injuring three people while shooting at vehicles on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth and four killings at a home in Bowdoin, police have said.

Soon after the discovery of the bodies in Bowdoin, police responded to gunshots fired at several vehicles more than 20 miles (about 32 kilometers) to the south on a busy highway in Yarmouth. Bullets struck a family in one of the vehicles, wounding Sean Halsey, 51, and his children Justin Halsey, 29, and Paige Halsey, 25, police said.

The shootings left Paige Halsey in critical condition for several days, and she is now in stable condition and recovering, Sean Halsey said Friday outside Maine Medical Center, where the family has been receiving treatment. Sean Halsey, whose hand was wrapped up in bandages from his wounds, said Justin Halsey has been released and is recovering at home.

Sean Halsey said the family members “have all received amazing care at Maine Medical and we have taken our first steps on the road to recovery,” and that they’ve benefited from support from friends and neighbors. The eldest Halsey said the family’s recovery from the terrifying shooting is happening just after the death of his father after months of declining health, and he and his children are looking forward to all being together again.

Sean Halsey recalled the scary scene of hearing bullets pierce through his car window while he and his children were driving to the grocery store.

“It was just so unexpected. Just driving down to get some groceries at the grocery store and started hearing some pops and weren’t sure what it was,” Sean Halsey said. “And then the back window exploded and we kind of heard more that obviously were gunshots. We knew what that was. Accelerated until I couldn’t hear them anymore, pulled the car over and tried to do everything I could to help my kids.”

Joseph Eaton, who is charged with the Bowdoin shootings, has been jailed since his arrest on April 18 near the chaotic scene along the highway, where traffic backed up as heavily armed law enforcement searched the area. Killed in Bowdoin were Eaton’s parents, Cynthia Eaton, 62, and David Eaton, 66, along with their longtime friends, Bowdoin homeowners Robert Eger, 72, and Patti Eger, 62, officials said.

Police have yet to determine a motive for the killings, and Eaton has yet to be charged with the Yarmouth shootings. He has been charged with four counts of murder for the Bowdoin deaths.

Police said Eaton told them he shot at vehicles in Yarmouth because he believed they were police following him after the Bowdoin shootings. Investigations into the shootings still need to be completed and presented to grand juries, authorities have said.

“At this time, detectives are still investigating, talking to witnesses,” said Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for Maine Department of Public Safety.

Eaton’s attorney, Andrew Wright of Brunswick, did not respond to a call seeking comment. Eaton has yet to enter a plea and is due in court again in June. He made a brief first appearance in court last week.

The bodies in Bowdoin were found on April 18, four days after Eaton’s release from prison.

Eaton’s parents were staying with their longtime friends after his mother picked him up from a Maine prison on April 14, where he served about two years for a sentence revocation after completing a sentence in Florida for aggravated assault, part of a long criminal history in Maine, Kansas and Florida.

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