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'Why do people do this?': Girl, 10, shot in leg in gunman's rampage speaks of ordeal as 18 killed at Maine bowling alley
26 October 2023, 15:21 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 16:36
A 10-year-old girl who was shot in the leg during the Maine bowling alley massacre has asked "why do people do this?" as a gunman killed 18 people.
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The shooter opened fire in a rampage in the Maine city of Lewiston - with the suspect, former US Army reserve instructor Robert Card, still at large amid a huge police manhunt.
Seven people were killed at Schemengees Bar and eight were killed at Sparetime Recreation bowling alley, Maine State Police said.
"I never thought I'd grow up and get a bullet in my leg," Zoey, 10, told CNN as she sat next to her mother.
"Why? Why do people do this?"
She was at the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley for a youth night.
Meghan Hutchinson, her mother, said: "She was grazed by a bullet while we were running."
In an update on Thursday afternoon UK time, it was confirmed 18 people had died and 13 are injured by state officials.
Initial numbers provided by a source within the police force told NBC News that the death toll had reached 22, with as many as 50 or 60 injured - which would make it the deadliest mass shooting in the US this year.
And Card, 40, who is still at large, should not be approached "under any circumstances", Maine governor Janet Mills said. He faces eight counts of murder.
"We cannot and we will not rest in this endeavour," Mills added. "This is a dark day for Maine."
The shootings took place at 7pm local time (around midnight in the UK) on Wednesday evening.
A children's party is said to have been taking place at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting.
Survivors have described how they escaped by fleeing down bowling lanes and hiding behind pins as the gunman used an AR-15-style rifle to open fire while children were playing. Children are among at least 60 people who were injured in the shooting.
One bowler, who only identified himself by his first name 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.
He said: "We were inside, just a normal night of bowling. Out of nowhere he just came in and there was a loud pop.
"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."
Police released a photo of a man in the bowling alley, as they said they were hunting Card, who is "armed and dangerous".
New York-based journalist Harriet Alexander told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that Card is a 'fearsome adversary' for local police as they continue their search for him.
Adding: "For a small community it's devastating, everybody will know somebody who is caught up in this."
No motive has yet been identified.
New York based journalist updates on Maine shooting
Card used to be a firearms trainer at a US army base, before being sent to a mental health facility after he began hearing voices.
Officers also posted a picture of a white Subaru they wanted to track down, but they later found it in a nearby town.
Maine public safety official Mike Sauschuck earlier told reporters: "Card is considered armed and dangerous.
"He is a person of interest, however, and that's what we'll label them at moving forward until that changes. If people see him, they should not approach Card or make contact with him in any way."
Sauschuck added: "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."
Local hospital the Central Maine Medical Center called the attacks a "mass casualty, mass shooter event" but didn't go into specifics.
With a population of about 35,000 people, Lewiston is the second biggest in Maine.
“I still feel like this whole thing is a nightmare,” Kathy Lebel, the co-owner of Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant, where at least 14 people were shot, told the Sun Journal.
The White House says President Biden has been briefed on the situation in Lewiston and will continue to receive updates.
President Biden has spoken to Mills, senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and congressman Jared Golden and offered full federal support in the wake of the attack.
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been briefed and was continuing to monitor the situation.
"DHS is working closely with our federal, state and local partners to support the Lewiston community," it said.
A US justice department statement said that federal agencies were assisting state and local law enforcement.
The state has one of the lowest murder rates in the US, measured per capita. Some 29 homicides were recorded in Maine in 2022.
The previous most deadly mass shooting in the US this year was in January in Monterey in California, where 11 people were murdered at a Chinese New Year event.