A man opened fire at a bar restaurant and bowling alley in Lewiston, in the US state of Maine, Wednesday, killing at least 22 people, wounding scores more and throwing the state’s second-largest city into chaos as hundreds of police searched for a person of interest.
Law enforcement identified Robert Card, who was trained as a firearms instructor at an Army Reserve training facility as a suspect. According to police reports, Card was placed in a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023.
Card had reportedly heard voices and had threatened to carry out a shooting at the military training base in Saco, Maine. A telephone number listed for Card in public records was not in service.
Lewiston Police said, in an earlier Facebook post, that they were dealing with an active shooter incident at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley about 6.4 kilometres away.
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released two photos of the suspect on its Facebook page that showed a shooter walking into an establishment with a weapon raised to their shoulder. Authorities said the shooting started just before 7 pm.
On its website, Central Maine Medical Center said staff were “reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event” and were coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients. The hospital was locked down and police, some armed with rifles, stood by the entrances.
Meanwhile, hospitals as far away as Portland, about 56 kilometres to the south, were on alert to potentially receive victims.
Authorities ordered residents and business owners to stay inside and off the streets. The shelter-in-place order was extended Wednesday night from Lewiston to Lisbon, about 13 kilometres away, after a “vehicle of interest” was found there, authorities said.
A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety urged locals to stay in their homes with their doors locked.
President Joe Biden had spoken by phone to Maine’s governor, Janet Mills and the state’s Senate and House members, offering “full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack,” a White House statement said.
Local schools will be closed Thursday and people should shelter in place or seek safety, Superintendent Jake Langlais said, adding: “Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them.”