The search continued on Thursday for a man who killed at least 18 people and injured 13 more during a rampage at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night, Gov. Janet Mills confirmed Thursday.
Residents in Maine’s second-largest city and several other nearby towns remained under shelter-in-place orders into Thursday morning and schools were ordered closed.
Police identified Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. In a police bulletin reviewed by the Associated Press, authorities said Card had been trained as a firearms instructor at a U.S. Army Reserve training facility in Maine. The bulletin said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023. It did not elaborate on the type of treatment he received but reportedly said Card reported hearing voices and had threatened to carry out a shooting at the military training base in Saco, Maine.
“Law Enforcement is attempting to locate Robert Card 4/4/1983, as a person of interest regarding the mass shooting at Schemengees Bar and Sparetime Recreation this evening. CARD should be considered armed and dangerous,” the Lewiston Police Department said.
“It’s very shocking,” Brenda Card, whose husband is Robert Card’s uncle, told Rolling Stone. “There’s a lot going on right now. I don’t feel like I can say anything more.”
Lewiston Police and the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office posted several images of the alleged gunman on social media. Authorities asked residents to contact police if they recognized the suspect, who appeared to be a bearded white man wearing dark pants and a brown long-sleeved shirt.
During a press conference Wednesday night, authorities called the situation “fluid” and urged locals to act with extreme caution.
“At approximately 6:56 PM this evening, a couple of shooting incidents occurred here with multiple casualties in the city of Lewiston,” Michael Sauschuck, Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Public Safety, said. “A vehicle, which was a vehicle of interest in this incident, was located in Lisbon, and we are now also asking residents in Lisbon to shelter in place.”
Sauschuck did not confirm the current death toll or the number of people injured during the press conference. “We will continue to gather information so that we can bring the suspect to justice and ultimately seek prosecution down the road.”
“We are currently dealing with an active shooter incident,” Lewiston Police wrote on Facebook. “Please stay off the roads to allow emergency responders access to the hospitals.” The police also shared a photo of a white SUV believed to belong to the shooter.
Police said Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley, were scenes under investigation. The two locations are approximately a 10-minute drive from one another. Police have identified a parked, white SUV believed to belong to the shooter.
At a press conference Thursday morning, officials announced that eight of the 18 victims had been identified and their families notified; as a result, Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder, with 10 more counts pending identification of the remaining victims.
Colonel William Ross of the Maine State Police said at the Thursday morning press conference that seven of the victims were killed at the initial shooting at the Sparetime Recreation, where six men and one woman were shot and killed. The shooting at Schemengees Bar and Grille resulted in additional deaths, including seven men inside the building and one man outside. Three more people — the genders of which were not revealed — died after being transferred to the hospital. Officials did not announce the age of any of the victims.
Ross added of the at-large suspect, “He should be considered armed and dangerous. Based on our investigation, we believe this is someone that should not be approached.”
As the investigation is still underway, officials did not speculate on motive or why the suspect chose those two establishments for his rampage, as well as why – with his reported history of mental illness and threats – he was still able to possess firearms.
“This city did not deserve this terrible assault,” Gov. Mills said Thursday at the press conference. “This is a dark day for Maine. I know it’s hard to think about healing when our hearts are broken.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Sparetime Recreation said, “None of this seems real, but unfortunately it is. We are devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night. There are no words to fix this or make it better. We praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”
Kathy Lebel, co-owner of Schemengees, told the Sun Journal a person walked into the restaurant and “started shooting.”
“It was just a fun night playing cornhole … it’s the last thing you’re expecting, right?” Lebel said. “I still feel like this whole thing is a nightmare.”
The Associated Press interviewed one man, identified only as Brandon, who said he was putting on bowling shoes when the shooting started. “I’ve been barefoot for five hours,” he said.
He told the AP he scrambled down the length of the alley, sliding into the pin area and climbing up to hide in the machinery.
“I just booked it,” he said.
Meghan Hutchinson told ABC she was inside the bowling alley with her daughter, Zoey, who was grazed by a bullet. A children’s bowling league was also present during the shooting.
“She was grazed by a bullet while we were running,” Hutchinson told ABC. “We were in the back room. Another child came in whose arm had a massive — was bleeding profusely. So we barricaded in there, and another parent was in the room with me. She had a phone and she called 911.”
A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety urged residents to stay in their homes with their doors locked, instructions that Gov. Mills echoed. President Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation and was in contact with Mills and the state’s Congress members, offering “full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack,” a White House statement said.
Superintendent Jake Langlais said that local schools will be closed on Thursday, adding: “Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them.”
This story is developing….
UPDATED on 10/26, 10:47 a.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect the number of people killed in Wednesday’s shooting as well as Thursday’s press conference.