Inside the Maine bowling alley massacre: Survivors hid between pins and machines as gunman killed 18 people

26 October 2023, 12:49 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 23:21

At least 18 people have been killed in the bowling alley attack
At least 18 people have been killed in the bowling alley attack. Picture: Alamy/Google Maps

By Will Taylor

Survivors of the Maine bowling alley massacre have revealed how they hid behind pins and machinery and leapt on top of children to protect them as a gunman killed 18 people.

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Children are among at least 60 others injured in the attack as a shooter opened fire on a children's bowling league in the city of Lewiston on Wednesday night.

Police believe the gunman is a former Army reserve instructor called Robert Card, who is "armed and dangerous" and remains on the loose. He opened fire at a bowling alley, Sparetime Recreation, and Schemengees Bar, which are four miles apart.

A survivor of the shooting at Sparetime Recreation, who was identified only as Brandon, said he fled down an alley in his bare feet when he heard 10 shots.

Read more: Massacre in Maine: Gunman on the run after murdering 22 people in pool hall and bowling alley packed with children

He had only just arrived at the alley and was changing his shoes when the shooting started.

"We were inside, just a normal night of bowling. Out of nowhere he just came in and there was a loud pop," he said.

"I thought it was a balloon, 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 down the lane and I slid basically in where the pins are and climbed on the machine."

Card unleashed his massacre on Wednesday
Card unleashed his massacre on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

He stayed there for ten minutes as the gunman got within 15ft of him.

Riley Dumont had brought her 11-year-old daughter to the bowling league when the rampage began.

Her father, a retired police officer, rushed her family to a corner as the shots broke out.

"I was laying on top of my daughter," she said.

Nichoel Wyman Arel was passing the alley when she was children being brought out and "patted down".

Read more: Maine shooting: Live updates as police hunt gunman after 22 shot dead

"Yeah, there were kids, that's — like, looking back, like that was probably the hardest part, seeing — just families, families pouring out of there and knowing that that happened in there while they were probably just trying to have a family night," she said.

At least seven people were killed at the bowling alley, police said, while it was reported 14 to 16 were killed at the bar. The death toll is believed to be 18.

The shooting happened at about 7pm local time, or midnight in the UK. It is likely to be the worst shooting in the US for four years. The entire state recorded a total of 29 murders last year.

The gunman rampaged through SpareTime bowling alley
The gunman rampaged through SpareTime bowling alley. Picture: Google Maps

Card, 40, was checked in at a mental health facility in the summer.

He previously said he had heard voices and threatened to carry out a shooting at a base in Saco, Maine.

Police have found Card's car, a white Subaru, about eight miles from the crime scene in Lewiston, which has a population of about 37,000.

Card has been named as the "person of interest" in the shooting
Card has been named as the "person of interest" in the shooting. Picture: Alamy

But he remains at large as a massive police manhunt got under way, with officers going door to door and helicopters scouring the area.

Mike Sauschuck, a public safety official for Maine, said he is "considered armed and dangerous".

"If people see him, they should not approach Card or make contact with him in any way," he said.

"We have literally hundreds of police officers working around the state of Maine to investigate this case, to locate Mr Card, who, again, is a person of interest, and a person of interest only."