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

26 October 2023, 11:34 | Updated: 26 October 2023, 12:12

Police are hunting for Robert Card
Police are hunting for Robert Card. Picture: Lewiston Police Department

By Asher McShane

At least 22 people have been killed after a gunman opened fire in a rampage in the Maine city of Lewiston - with the shooter still at large and a huge manhunt launched by police.

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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.

Officers in the city of Lewiston said they were investigating two active shooter events, as they urged people to lock their doors and stay inside.

The shootings took place at 7pm local time (around midnight in the UK) on Wednesday evening at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley.

They released a photo of a man in a bowling alley, as they said they were hunting a shooting instructor called Robert Card, who is "armed and dangerous".

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."

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.

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."

Follow events as they happen in LBC's live blog

No motive has yet been identified.

An armed law enforcement official guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine
An armed law enforcement official guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. Picture: Getty

New York based journalist updates on Maine shooting

Where is Lewiston, Maine, town at the centre of a mass shooting.
Where is Lewiston, Maine, town at the centre of a mass shooting. Picture: Getty

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.

A children's party is said to have been taking place at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting.

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."

Police have released an image of a vehicle believed to have been used by the shooter.
Police have released an image of a vehicle believed to have been used by the shooter. Picture: Lewiston Maine Police Department
Police are hunting the gunman
Police are hunting the gunman. Picture: Lewiston Police Department

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.

An armed police officer guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine
An armed police officer guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. Picture: Getty

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 Maine Governor Janet 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 killer is still 'armed and dangerous'
The killer is still 'armed and dangerous'. Picture: Lewiston Police Department
Robert Card
Robert Card. Picture: Lewiston Police Department

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.

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