A gunman has killed at least 22 people and injured 60 in the town of Lewiston, Maine, after bursting into a bowling alley and a bar and opening fire with an AR 15-style rifle last night.
The town is on lockdown as police hunt for suspect Robert Card, a 40-year-old US Army reserve firearms instructor who was hospitalized this summer for two weeks with mental health issues.
Officers have confirmed that Card’s vehicle – a 2013 white Subaru – was found near the boat dock in Lisbon, about seven miles southeast of Lewiston, but the suspect was not inside.
Chilling CCTV images show the shooter pointing his rifle as he walked into the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley, while dramatic footage shows terrified people running for their lives. Residents have been told to lock their doors.
Card, from Bowdoin, Maine, had previously reported hearing voices and had threatened to shoot up his National Guard base in Saco, Maine, according to the Maine Information and Analysis Center – a division of the Maine state police.
The ‘armed and dangerous’ shooter, who has been named as a ‘person of interest’ by police, was holding an AR 15-style rifle with a laser optic when he burst into the bowling alley at 7:15pm local time (12.15am BST) to begin his rampage.
Police then received calls about a shooting at a second location, Schemengees Bar and Grille, which was around four miles away. This is the deadliest attack of the 565 mass shootings in the US this year.
A gunman has killed at least 22 people and injured 60 in the town of Lewiston, Maine. Police in Lewiston are hunting for the suspect, pictured at the Sparetime recreation center. The first call came in for Sparetime at 7:15pm
Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist and firearms instructor, has been named as the suspect in the murder of 22 people in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday
One bowler, who identified himself as Brandon, said he heard 10 shots ring out before he ran down the alley barefoot and climbed inside the bowling machinery to hide from the gunman.
‘There was a loud pop,’ he said. ‘I had my back turned to the door. And as soon as I turned and saw it was not a balloon, he was holding a weapon. I just booked it.
‘I was putting on my bowling shoes when it started. I’ve been barefoot for five hours.’
Concerned friends and family members of possible victims are desperately hunting for information as they claim police won’t tell them who the casualties are as it is an ongoing investigation.
Police were knocking on doors of homes in the local area, while helicopters remained in the area Wednesday night.
A shelter-in-place order remains in effect for Lewiston, and is also now in place in Lisbon, where Card’s car was found.
Authorities have opened a reunification center at Auburn Middle School. Armed police were searching anyone coming onto the grounds.
Dozens of anxious relatives were hurried inside by officers, and DailyMail.com saw one woman sobbing behind the wheel of her car.
At least a dozen local officers surrounded the school, with volunteers taking emotional family members inside.
Lewiston city councilor Robert McCarthy said 22 people were dead, with 50-60 injured. Maine’s hospitals said they were declaring a mass casualty event. The death toll, which could yet rise, is the largest from a mass shooting this year.
Card’s sister-in-law told The Daily Beast they were in shock.
‘I am with police right now and my children [are] terrified and shaken, so I do not have a comment on anything right now,’ she said.
Sheriff Eric Samson of Androscoggin County said at least seven people had been fatally shot at the bowling alley.
The sheriff also announced at 11:20pm that officers had found Card’s vehicle near the boat dock in Lisbon, but the suspect was nowhere to be seen.
McCarthy said he had been told that a children’s party was taking place at Sparetime when the gunman opened fire. Nichoel Wyman Arel, who was passing by the site, told CNN‘s Laura Coates that she saw a large number of children pouring out of the bowling alley.
Mike Sauschuck, a law enforcement spokesperson in Lewiston, said Card ‘is considered armed and dangerous.’
‘If people see him they should not approach him in any way,’ he added.
Justin Juray, an owner of Sparetime, described the scene as ‘total chaos.’ He said in a text message to The New York Times that there were about 100 to 150 people, including 20 children, at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting.
Meanwhile, it was cornhole night at Schemengees.
‘It was just a fun night playing cornhole… it’s the last thing you’re expecting, right?’ said co-owner Kathy Lebel.
She told The Sun Journal: ‘I still feel like this whole thing is a nightmare.’
Maria Wilson, whose friend Arthur Strout may be missing, broke down in tears while speaking to media outside of Auburn Middle School.
She explained how she was told her friend – who was playing pool at the bar – was ‘definitely alive’ by police only for them to later say he was not at the scene.
Wilson, who does not know where her friend is, told reporters: ‘It’s not fair to give us false hope. And now we don’t know what’s going on. We’ve called everywhere.
‘Cops are saying that they will not confirm or deny anybody being there because of its, you know, ongoing investigation.
‘We have the right to know as a family if people are alive. He’s a close family friend, and we had like, probably 15 people waiting in the hospital because we were told he was alive.’
Maria said her friend was playing pool and the person he was playing with is in a critical condition. ‘This whole thing is heartbreaking,’ she added.
One man inside the bar told the mayor of Auburn, Jason Levesque, that he heard ‘a couple of pops’, but did not think anything of it as it was around Halloween.
Levesque told CNN’s Laura Coates it was only when people began running and screaming that he realized something was wrong.
A source told a Sun Journal reporter that there were 14 to 16 gunshot victims at Schemengees.
Joe Biden’s state dinner with the prime minister of Australia was interrupted to inform the president of the incidents.
Biden later called the governor of Maine and both senators, and said the federal government was ready to assist in every way possible.
FBI operatives stationed in Boston said that the Bureau was ready to assist with the search.
‘The FBI Boston Division continues to coordinate with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Maine and we stand ready to assist with any available resources they need, including evidence response, investigative and tactical support, as well as victim assistance,’ the Bureau said.
A photo issued by sheriffs showed a white man with an AR-15-style rifle and a laser optic entering the Sparetime recreation center, wearing black combat trousers and a brown top. His face is clearly visible.
Police in Lewiston issued a photo of the white station wagon they were seeking, saying it could have a black-painted bumper.
‘There is an active shooter situation in the city of Lewiston,’ said Maine state police.
‘Law enforcement is asking people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked.’
The local hospital said at 9pm they could not confirm casualties.
‘Central Maine Healthcare is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients,’ the hospital said.
The Maine Medical Center in Portland, which has the most advanced trauma center in the state, confirmed it has received one patient transferred from a Lewiston hospital.
Police audio said the two locations were Schemengee’s bar and grill, and Sparetime recreation center.
The two sites are around four miles apart, in Maine’s second-largest city.
Derrick St. Laurent, a Lewiston spokesman, told the Sun Journal that police were then called to a third location, a Walmart distribution center at 8:15pm, but Joe Pennington, a Walmart spokesman, said: ‘This shooting did not occur on Walmart property.’
A police officer in tactical gear gets ready in the Lisbon High School gymnasium
McCarthy told CNN: ‘They have set up the National Guard center as a triage center.
‘The hospitals have called up all off-duty staff. Our hospitals are not geared to cope with this, but they are doing the best they can.
‘We are blessed with the best police in the state, and I am sure they are doing all they can.’
McCarthy said his own home was near the bowling alley, and they were barricaded inside with their guns.
‘The bowling alley is in a business park,’ he said.
‘There were two restaurants next door, and a lot of patrons ran there.
‘The other bar is way across town, on the outskirts of the city.
‘There are also reports that the doors were shot out at the Walmart distribution center.’
Asked about efforts to identify the gunman, McCarthy said: ‘They have a picture of a vehicle they believe he was in, and they have some unique characteristics – the front bumper is black. I’m told they have the plate number. I’m told they are looking for him hard.’
Footage shared on social media showed police racing to the scene in the town of 36,000 people, 35 miles north of Portland and 35 miles south of the capital, Augusta.
The city of Auburn, just across the Androscoggin River, has also warned residents to remain indoors.
‘**ALERT: There is an active shooter incident in progress in the City of Lewiston,’ they wrote on X.
‘ALL Auburn & Lewiston residents are strongly urged to shelter in place, lock all doors & report suspicious individuals and activities to 9-1-1.
‘Most businesses in the area have closed/are closing.**’
Bates College, a private liberal arts college in Lewiston, is on lockdown, according to The New York Times.
Dozens of students are sheltering on the top floor of the college library, crouched down among the books and scrolling through social media for updates.
Classes are cancelled for Thursday.
‘We know that these events have shocked and frightened our community,’ said Geoffrey Swift, the college’s vice president for finance and administration.
‘And we grieve for those whose lives were tragically lost in this heinous act of violence.’
Police in Lewiston, Maine are seen rushing to reports of two shootings – one at a bar, one at a bowling alley
Janet Mills, the governor of Maine, said in a statement she was aware of the shootings and had been briefed.
‘I urge all people in the area to follow the direction of State and local enforcement,’ Mills said in the statement.
‘I will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with public safety officials.’
Maine has a fairly high level of gun ownership, and relatively lax laws: Roughly half of its households have firearms, according to research cited by Maine public radio last year.
There is no independent background check system, no red flag law to identify those at extreme risk for gun violence, no requirement that convicted domestic abusers turn in their guns and no permit requirements for concealed weapons.
Card, as a certified firearms instructor, would have had no problem in obtaining weapons.
But unlike many states with such a large supply, it sees relatively few fatal shootings each year: 89 percent of gun deaths are suicide, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
‘There’s no large cities in Maine,’ said Representative Chellie Pingree, a Democrat.
‘So this isn’t like being in Dallas or New York City. It’s a very tight-knit community in spite of the fact that it’s a city, and I’m just sure there’s just an enormous number of grieving families.’
Carl Sheline, the mayor of Lewiston, said he is ‘heartbroken for our city and our people’.
He added: ‘Lewiston is known for our strength and grit, and we will need both in the days to come.’
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, tweeted his condolences, and expressed his anger at the shooting.
‘Devastating news out of Maine. A mass shooting. Multiple locations. At least 16 dead, 50 injured, and thousands of lives forever changed,’ he wrote on X.
‘We don’t have to live like this, and we definitely don’t have to die like this.’
On Monday, the superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools, Jake Langlais, wrote to parents to inform them that he had been made aware of threats to the school – but they had determined the person making the threats was 10 years old, and lived in the Midwest.
‘The individual responsible for the message that was threatening to LHS last night has been identified,’ wrote Langlais, in a letter obtained by News Center Maine.
‘Law enforcement has made contact and the situation has been taken care of.’
He said that school would operate as normal on Monday.
There is nothing to suggest that the threats to the school and Wednesday’s shooting are connected.
Source: Daily Mail