Maine mass shooting: Police hunt for gunman after 18 killed at bowling alley and restaurant
Police have identified the gunman who is still at large after a mass shooting in Maine left 18 people dead.
At least 18 people were killed and 13 injured in shootings in Maine, Governor Janet Mills has said. A man shot and killed the victims at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston and then fled into the night, sparking a massive search by hundreds of officers while residents stayed locked in their homes on Thursday under a shelter-in-place advisory.
Ms Mills said the suspect, Robert Card, is considered armed and dangerous. “This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security,” she said.
A police bulletin identified Card, 40, as a person of interest in the attack in Lewiston that sent bowlers scrambling behind pins, into corners and a back room when shots rang out at around 7pm on Wednesday.
Card was described as a firearms instructor believed to be in the US Army Reserve and assigned to a training facility in Saco, Maine. The document, circulated to law enforcement officials, said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023.
It did not provide details about his treatment or condition but said Card had reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” the military base. Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss said the bowling alley shooting happened first.
Earlier, Lewiston Police said that they were dealing with an incident at Schemengees Bar and Grille and at Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley about four miles away. A number of parents and children were at Sparetime as part of a children’s bowling league.
One bowler, who identified himself only as Brandon, said he heard about 10 shots, thinking the first was a balloon popping. “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,” he told The Associated Press.
Brandon said he scrambled down the length of the alley, sliding into the pin area and climbing up to hide in the machinery. He was among a busload of survivors who were driven to a school in the neighbouring city of Auburn to be reunited with family and friends.
“I was putting on my bowling shoes when it started. I’ve been barefoot for five hours,” he said.
Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, said her staff immediately locked their doors and moved all 25 customers and employees away from the doors after a customer reported hearing about the shooting at the bowling alley less than a quarter of a mile away.
Soon, the police flooded the road and a police officer eventually escorted everyone out of the building.
“I am honestly in a state of shock. I am blessed that my team responded quickly and everyone is safe,” Ms Small said. “But at the same time, my heart is broken for this area and for what everyone is dealing with. I just feel numb.”
Wednesday was “industry night” at Schemengees Bar and Grille, with 25% discounts offered to customers who work in the bar or restaurant industry. “In a split second your world gets turned upside down for no good reason,” the business posted online, saying “great people in this community” were lost.
On its website, Central Maine Medical Centre said staff were “reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event” and were coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients.
The alert for Lewiston was made shortly after 8pm local time as the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office reported that law enforcement agencies were investigating “two active shooter events”.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect was still at large. “We are encouraging all businesses to lock down and or close while we investigate,” the sheriff’s office reported.
A spokesperson for Maine Department of Public Safety urged residents to stay in their homes with their doors locked. “Law enforcement is currently investigating at two locations right now,” Shannon Moss said. “Again please stay off the streets and allow law enforcement to diffuse the situation.”
An order for residents and business owners to stay inside and off the streets of the city of 37,000 was extended on Wednesday night from Lewiston to Lisbon, about eight miles (13km) away, after a “vehicle of interest” was found there, authorities said.
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released two photos of the suspect on its Facebook page that showed a gunman walking into an establishment with a weapon raised to his shoulder.
It is the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. In 2022 the state of Maine had 29 homicides for the entire year.
Author Stephen King responded to the shootings Thursday morning in a pair of posts on X, formerly Twitter.
“The shootings occurred less than 50 miles from where I live. I went to high school in Lisbon. It’s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing apologists for murder,” he wrote.