Lewiston, Maine (CNN) — Eighteen people have been killed and 13 injured in a shooting rampage at a restaurant and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine’s governor said Thursday, as a furious manhunt – with schools shuttered and people warned to stay indoors – continues for an accused US Army Reservist now wanted on murder charges.
An arrest warrant has been issued for suspect Robert Card, 40, Maine State Police Col. William Ross said during a Thursday news conference. He “should be considered armed and dangerous,” officials said.
Card is a certified firearms instructor and a member of the US Army Reserves, law enforcement officials in Maine told CNN. He had recently threatened to carry out a shooting at a National Guard facility in Saco, Maine, and reported mental health issues, including hearing voices, the officials said.
“This is a dark day for Maine,” Gov. Janet Mills said at the news conference. “It’s hard for us to think about healing when our hearts are broken.”
Some in the area woke up Thursday to officers with long guns scouring their neighborhoods.
“Nerves are rattled right now – keeping an eye on the woods,” said Cory, a resident of nearby Lisbon, Maine, whose 10-year-old daughter was inside his home. “That actually made me feel better. Seeing the cops coming around here, that makes me feel a million times better.
“In the situation like this,” he told CNN, “I wish I had a firearm.”
Anyone who sees Card should not approach him “or make contact with him in any way,” Maine’s Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said late Wednesday.
With a death toll of 18, the rampage appears to be the deadliest mass shooting of 2023 in the United States, adding to a grim docket of 565 such incidents reported this year across the country, with four or more shot excluding the shooter, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder, Ross of Maine State Police said. “Ten (victims) have not yet been identified. As those people are identified, the counts will probably go to the total of 18,” he said.
Lewiston City Councilor Robert McCarthy has backed off his assertion to CNN on air Wednesday night of a “confirmed” death toll of 22, later calling it “unconfirmed.”
“It’s so surreal,” McCarthy said. “You just see it on the news and you say, ‘That’s never gonna happen here,’ and then it happens here, and it just blows your mind.”
By Thursday morning, the entire Lisbon Police Departure had been called in to hunt for the shooter and make sure businesses are closed, Chief Ryan McGee said.
“Right now, this is an active scene in Lisbon,” he told reporters.
Major Northeast grocery chain Hannaford Supermarkets is keeping all its Maine stores closed at least until 10 a.m., the company said. And public schools in Lewiston and Portland – the state’s largest district, with about 6,500 students – are closed, officials have said.
People in nearby Bowdoin, Maine, were advised early Thursday the shelter in place advisory and school closings would include their town, Maine State Police announced: “Please stay inside your homes while more than 100 investigators, both local and federal work to locate Robert Card who is a person of interest in the Lewiston shootings.”
“We want to locate the individual, make sure our community’s kept safe,” McGee said, “so biggest thing I can say is make sure that if the community sees anything, stay inside, don’t approach, call the police department – just like we did here just here. Someone heard something, they called: It’s the right thing to do.”
The rampage began shortly before 7 p.m. and fueled calls for everyone in Lewiston to shelter in place as hundreds of officers searched for the gunman. Lewiston police shared images of a man walking into what appears to be a bowling alley holding a high-powered, assault-style rifle.
The active shooting incidents were reported at Just-in-Time Recreation, a bowling alley on Mollison Way, and about 4 miles away at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street, Lewiston Police said. Authorities initially identified the bowling alley by its prior name, Sparetime Recreation.
People ran away from Just-in-Time Recreation as police cruisers responded to the scene, video obtained by CNN shows. A person on a stretcher was loaded into an ambulance, another video from outside the bowling alley shows.
Central Maine Medical Center was “reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event,” and coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients, it said.
“There are multiple scenes in the city to include multiple hospitals, multiple follow ups, a lot of witnesses we’re speaking with and a lot of leads,” Sauschuck said. “The general public has been very cooperative, and very forthcoming with information.”
A “vehicle of interest” was found Wednesday night 8 miles from Lewiston in the town of Lisbon, prompting shelter-in-place-orders for that area as well, Sauschuck said.
Lewiston police earlier had shared an image of a small, white SUV with a front bumper that was believed to be painted black. Maine State Police confirmed to CNN the image is of the person of interest’s car.
President Joe Biden has spoken by phone with Maine lawmakers and “offered full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack,” the White House said in a statement.
Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline is “heartbroken for our city and our people,” he said. “Lewiston is known for our strength and grit and we will need both in the days to come.”
“Both of these locations last night are family locations,” Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Shanna Cox said Thursday as the community awaited work on the slain and injured. “It was family league activity at the bowling alley. The likeliness of this having direct impact for so many here is so real.”
Auburn, Maine, Mayor Jason Levesque lost friends in the shooting, he told “CNN This Morning.” And a teenager who went to school with his son was shot and is expected to recover, he said.
“There’s going to be very few people in this community that have not been touched by this,” he said. “It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, and it’s really hard for me to explain that.”
Counselors, local clergy and state police representatives were at the reunification center in his city, less than 2 miles west of Lewiston, Levesque said.
“The other folks that I knew that were there either as witnesses or family members of witnesses; it’s obviously traumatic,” Levesque said. “The bright spot was seeing individuals reunified with their loved ones after not knowing for so long, but on the on the other side, the ones that were waiting and waiting, probably would never be reunified.”
“Lewiston is a special place,” the governor added. “It’s a close-knit community with a long history of hard work, of persistence, of faith, of opening its big heart to people everywhere. This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does, no state, no people.”
“My heart is crushed. I am at a loss for words. In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason,” Schemengees said in a Facebook post. “We loss great people in this community. How can we make any sense of this. Sending out prayers to everyone.”
Just-In-Time Recreation is “devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night,” it said in a statement on Facebook. “There are no words to fix this or make it better.
“Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them,” Lewiston Public Schools said in a post. “Our prayers go out to those who lost someone tonight. Our prayers go out to all those working to stop further loss of life.”
People ran out of bowling alley
The shooting injected fear into Lewiston, the state’s second-largest city, with about 38,000 people, about 36 miles north of Portland.
Nichoel Wyman Arel was on her way home with her daughter from a Girl Scout meeting when she saw police lights and ambulances around the bowling alley and people running. At least one person looked to be covered in blood, she told CNN’s Laura Coates.
Arel and her daughter saw officers patting people down as they came out of the bowling alley, she said.
“There were kids. Looking back, that was probably the hardest part is seeing just families; families pouring out of there,” Arel said. “And knowing that that happened in there while they were just probably trying to have a family night.”
When she got home, Arel locked up the house, including windows, she said. Her daughter “was scared somebody was going to come into our home.”
“My house is located a half a mile from where this happened, and so it was a real scary event,” McCarthy, the city councilor, said.
“I live on a dead-end street with woods behind me. We locked all the doors. We grabbed the guns, and we’re just waiting to hear that they catch the individual or individuals that did this.”
Officials in Auburn also urged residents to shelter in place due to the active shooter situation, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“You can train for this, but you can never be completely prepared,” Levesque said, “It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation.”
Timeline: The attack and the manhunt
• Around 7 p.m.: Two shootings are reported in Lewiston with multiple casualties, according to Sauschuck.
• 8 p.m.: Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office releases photos of the armed person of interest and says it’s investigating two active shooter incidents. The agency encourages “all businesses to lock down and or close while we investigate.”
• 8:09 p.m.: Maine State Police says there’s “an active shooter in Lewiston” and tells people to stay inside with their doors locked. “Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations,” the agency added.
• 8:26 p.m.: The neighboring City of Auburn urges all residents to shelter in place.
• 8:53 p.m.: Lewiston police identify the shooting locations as Schemengees and Sparetime Recreation.
• 9:17 p.m.: Lewiston police release the image of a white vehicle, asking members of the public to contact them if they see it. The image is of the person of interest’s car, Maine State Police told CNN.
• 10:18 p.m.: Lewiston City Councilor Robert McCarthy tells CNN the death toll was at 22 people killed.
• 10:52 p.m.: Police on social media name Robert Card as a “person of interest” in the mass shooting and release his photo.
• Around 11:30 p.m.: Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck says in a news conference that a “vehicle of interest” was found in Lisbon, but the person of interest remains at large.
• 11:34 p.m.: Lisbon officials say all town offices will be closed on Thursday and tell people to keep sheltering in place.
The FBI office in Boston said it’s ready to assist local authorities as they respond to the mass shooting.
“The FBI Boston Division continues to coordinate with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Maine and we stand ready to assist with any available resources they need, including evidence response, investigative and tactical support, as well as victim assistance,” the FBI in Boston said in a statement.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Boston is also among agencies responding to the shooting, according to a post from the agency.
This story has been updated to reflect uncertainty about the death toll.
CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Josh Campbell, Chris Boyette and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.
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