A man shot and killed at least 18 people at a restaurant and a bowling alley in Maine and then fled into the night, sparking a massive search by hundreds of officers while frightened residents stayed locked in their homes on Thursday under a shelter-in-place advisory.
Maine’s governor Janet Mills said at least 18 people were killed and 13 were injured in the shootings at a press conference on Thursday.
Mills said the shooting 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 panicked bowlers scrambling behind pins, into corners and a back room when shots rang out around 7 pm (local time) 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.
A telephone number listed for Card in public records was not in service.
Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss said the bowling alley shooting happened first.
Earlier, Lewiston Police said that they were dealing with an active shooter incident at Schemengees Bar and Grille and at Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley about 6.4 km 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.
“I was putting on my bowling shoes when it started. I’ve been barefoot for five hours,” he said.
The bowling alley is home to traditional tenpin bowling as well as candlepin, a variant of bowling found in New England.
It’s located about 3.2 km north of the Bates College campus, on the outskirts of downtown. The alley has a small bar and is popular for local bowling leagues and children’s parties.
Wednesday was “industry night” at Schemengees Bar and Grille, with 25 per cent 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.