As Don Carter Lanes re-opens, bowlers remember their friend killed in deadly attack

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — It’s been two and a half weeks since the deadly attack at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford.

The day after Christmas, a gunman killed three men and hurt three others. Wednesday, the bowling center resumed training days for players in leagues. The service is free, but donations to help the victims and their families with medical bills are encouraged.

A GoFundMe page Don Carter’s general manager Brad Sommer created has raised nearly $23,000. He says support from the community hasn’t slowed down.

“Everyone wanted to get back in the building, last night we had all the employees come in and Lino’s provided us some catering, the chaplain came in and people were able to hug each other again walk around the building and it was a really good thing,” said Sommer.

Dennis Steinhoff, Jerome Woodform, and Thomas Furseth were killed in the attack but their memories live on. Jerome Woodfork was an avid bowler and mentor who the community says will always have a spot on the bowling league.

“I feel back at home now, I feel like I’m ready to compete again, I feel happy to be back,” said Jermarrion Simmons. “It was a weird feeling at first then after a while, I remembered all the good memories I had in this house ..then I got warmed up and I was like ‘hey it’s no different than another day.'”

16-year-old Jermarrion Simmons’ love for bowling was sparked inside Don Carter Lanes. As he made his way to his lane, he missed seeing the familiar face of his friend and mentor, Jerome Woodfork.

“He’d be practicing right now,” he said. “Jerome was a big part of my life, very inspirational, and a lot of life lessons.”

“[He taught me] to always stay strong, never give up, keep fighting until the last shot is thrown,” Simmons said. “He was a mentor to a lot of people, not just me younger people, older people.”

Simmons spent his day throwing strikes with his friend Nick Sommer.

“This is my home, this is where I grew up,” said Nick Sommer, the general manager’s son.

Sommer said he couldn’t wait for the doors to open and the lanes to be reset with pins.

“No matter if you’re a bowler, I think everyone felt the pain that happened on that day,”
Sommer said. “This is something you don’t expect, but when it happens in your place of business, your home, your community, it’s something that changes you forever.”

If you are interested in donating to the victims’ families, click here.

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