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‘You’re a hero’: Family shares how their loved one saved the lives of children during the Maine shootings

By Jim Keithley

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    LEWISTON, Maine (WMTW) — Thomas Giberti, 69, was shot seven times with bullets hitting both his legs when a gunman opened fire at a Maine bowling alley last week. Three days after the shooting, Giberti was discharged from the hospital and was up and walking with a walker, his family said.

“The four shots actually to his left leg, the bullets remain inside of his leg because they’re kind of impeded in the muscle area and stuff like that and it would do more damage to dig them out,” said Will Bourgault, Giberti’s nephew.

Bourgault said everyone who has heard his uncle’s story, himself included, are amazed by his quick thinking and swift actions that likely saved the lives of eight or nine children.

Giberti, who used to be a manager at the bowling alley, was at the Just-In-Time Recreation Center that night. He had gone out back to grab a screwdriver to fix a piece of loose equipment when the gunman entered.

“As he was coming back out the door to go back into the bowling alley, he saw flashes of light he realized hearing the gunshots that somebody was shooting in there and people were running in all kinds of different directions and stuff,” said Bourgault, relaying the story his uncle told.

“He looked over to where the kids were at – six lanes basically of youth bowlers there and they were just all kind of hunkered down trying to hide from the gunman. He was able to get their attention and called to them and the kids ran across the lanes and got to where he was at and as he got them out the back doors so they could get out into the back parking lot in the back, he got shot in the back of his left leg and that’s what dropped him in the doorway,” Bourgault said.

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Giberti was rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery and is now dealing with both physical and emotional pain, said his family. Two of his close friends, Bob and Lucy Violette, were both killed that night.

Bourgault is calling his uncle a hero.

“I said, ‘Tom – you’re a hero to us – what you did was heroic.’ He said – ‘no I just reacted.’ I said, ‘Tom, that’s what heroes do; they just react. You know you could have run out the back door. You could have saved yourself without getting shot. You could have just taken off. You could have frozen back there, but you didn’t; you went for it. You got the attention of those kids. Those kids were able to get out safely because of what you did,'” Bourgault said.

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