On Wednesday night the city of Lewiston, Maine, was shaken after a gunman opened fire in several locations. Police scrambled to find the shooter, advising residents and local businesses to lock down immediately.
Maine law enforcement officials later announced that Robert Card, a 40-year-old man, was the “person of interest” in the shootings that claimed dozens of lives at a Lewiston bar and bowling alley.
Here’s what we know so far.
Who is Robert Card?
After identifying Robert Card as the “person of interest”, the sheriff’s office made photos of him public for identification. He could be seen in the images wearing brown clothes and brandishing a high-powered assault-style rifle.
The law enforcement also unveiled a picture of the vehicle under investigation – a compact white SUV featuring a front bumper painted black. It was a car that the Maine State Police confirmed as belonging to the shooter.
As of 9pm local time on Wednesday evening, the shooter remained at large.
City councilor Robert McCarthy told CNN that the death toll reached 22. “My understanding is that they have a tentative identification… of the shooter at the bowling alley, confirmed 22 dead, many, many more injured,” he said.
John Miller, chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst for CNN, described the weapon as an AR15-style rifle with a possible telescopic sight. He noted that the gunman was wearing blue tactical pants with “bulging” pockets, suggesting the possibility that he was carrying extra ammunition.
The person of interest, Card, should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.
As per law enforcement reports, Card served as a firearms instructor in the US Army Reserve. He recently disclosed mental health issues, citing experiences of auditory hallucinations including hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, according to a Maine law enforcement bulletin seen by the Associated Press.
He was also committed to a mental health facility for two weeks during the summer of 2023. According to a report by Macra, Card has a history of arrests for domestic violence and other crimes.
Where did the incidents occur?
Police, fire and rescue personnel first descended on Sparetime Recreation on Mollison Way, in Lewiston, about 7.15pm local time after a report of an active shooter, according to Maine newspaperThe Sun Journal.
Shortly afterwards, reports circulated online that another incident had taken place at a local bar and restaurant – Schemengees – on nearby Lincoln Street.
Around an hour after the first police activity, Lewiston public information officer Derrick St Laurent told The Sun Journal that another shooting had been reported at the Walmart Distribution Center on Alfred A Plourde Parkway.
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s office later released two pictures of the person of interest entering a bowling alley – appearing to confirm reports on the first location.
What happened in the initial aftermath?
Video shared online showed multiple police vehicles in the local area.
A message put out online by Maine State Police advised members of the public to “shelter in place”.
“There is an active shooter in Lewiston. We ask people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked. Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations,” the force said.
“If you see any suspicious activity or individuals please call 911. Updates to follow.”
A text sent out by Lewiston Public Schools urged anyone near or at the school for conferences to get in a safe place.
”We are going into lockdown. I will provide more information as it is available and appropriate,” the alert read.
Hundreds of police officers are searching for Robert Card, a person of interest in a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, that killed and injured several people. pic.twitter.com/2WdTigbewY
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 26, 2023
How many people have been shot?
The number of people shot was not immediately clear, though the Central Maine Medical Center said it was responding to a “mass casualty” event. Later, officials said the death toll rose to 22.
“Central Maine Medical Center is reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event. At this time there are no specifics to share on the number of casualties,” the hospital wrote in an online statement.
“Central Maine Healthcare is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients.”
NBC News said that at least 22 people had been killed.
ABC News reported that 16 people had been killed, with dozens more injured. The outlet cited law enforcement sources who have been briefed on the shooting.
CNN sources said that there had been 16 fatalities and that between 50 and 60 people had been wounded.
How is Lewiston dealing with the tragedy?
Local schools have announced they will cancel classes on Thursday.
“There remains a lot of unknowns at this time. Information moves quickly but not always accurately. Please continue to shelter in place or get to safety. We will continue to update you with information and next steps as appropriate,” Lewiston Public Schools said.
“Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them. Our prayers go out to those who lost someone tonight. Our prayers go out to all those working to stop further loss of life.”
Town offices in Lisbon, which neighbours Lewiston, will also be closed on Thursday, it was reported.
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