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 sectioned 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.
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.
38 ‘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, who’s 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.