Maine State Police have advised residents to “shelter in place” after an attacker in Lewiston killed 18 people and remains at large. Maine is one of 20 states in the United States (US) that do not require permits to carry guns. Since Wednesday’s attack, activists are calling for stronger measures to prevent gun violence in the state. An arrest warrant has been issued for suspect Robert Card. Several US law enforcement agencies are investigating a case that they say is in its “early stages”.
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How many people were killed in Maine?
18 people have been killed and 13 are injured, officials said at a press conference held at Lewiston City Hall on Thursday. Three of the victims died after being transported to medical centres.
What happened and when?
According to officials and witnesses, the shooting began at 6:56 pm on Wednesday, with people of various ages seen fleeing the crime scenes. About 7 pm, the shooting locations were identified as Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley on Mollison Way in Lewiston, and Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street in Lewiston. Police received multiple calls on the 911 emergency number at about this time.
At 8 pm, the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook that they were investigating an active shooter situation. This post was accompanied by photos of the suspect with a rifle and a call for businesses to lock down. Officials began asking residents in Lewiston and neighbouring Auburn to take shelter. Schools, businesses, roads and offices in higher-risk areas of Maine were ordered to close.
At 9:17 pm, Lewiston police released an image of the suspect’s SU, found in Lisbon about 8 miles (13km) from Lewiston along state highway 196. Following that, certain roads in Lewiston were reportedly closed, while police helicopters were seen circling over Lisbon. So far, eight of the victims have been identified, and police have issued an arrest warrant for Card on eight counts of murder.
Where did the shooting happen?
The shooting occurred in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city, located midway between the state capital, Augusta, and its largest city, Portland. Lewiston is in Androscoggin County. Maine is the most northeastern state in the United States. It borders the state of New Hampshire and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick.
Who is the Maine mass shooting suspect?
40-year-old Robert Card from Bowdoin, Maine, has been identified as a suspect. Police have labelled him “armed and dangerous”, warning Maine residents not to approach or contact him and to notify law enforcement if they know his whereabouts.
A certified firearms instructor and member of the US Army Reserve, Card recently threatened that he would shoot at a National Guard facility in Saco, Maine. According to news agency The Associated Press (AP), military officials got “concerned” about Card in mid-July when he began “acting erratically” while training at a military academy in New York. Card was then sent to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, New York for evaluation.
The suspect’s relatives told CNN that they are urging Card to turn himself in and that his mental health issues were an “acute episode”, rather than a “lifetime” of struggles. During two press conferences, Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck stated that law enforcement authorities could not address questions about Card’s background or mental health yet.
What is the situation like in Lewiston?
The situation is considered “fluid” while the manhunt for the suspect is underway. The suspect’s vehicle was found abandoned at a boat launch on the Androscoggin River, with the bumper painted black. Officials are unsure if Card fled into the woods, dumped the car, and boarded a boat, sources told CNN. An advisory to remain indoors is in place for Lewiston, Auburn and Bowdoin. Municipal offices, libraries, businesses and schools in some areas remain closed.
‘Heartbroken for Lewiston’
According to the White House press office, US President Joe Biden called Maine political leaders to offer his support. Maine Governor Janet Mills expressed her grief at a press briefing on Thursday and said she was monitoring the situation with the help of public safety officials. ABC News quoted Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline as saying, “I am heartbroken for our city and our people. Lewiston is known for our strength and grit, and we will need both in the days to come.”
Both shooting locations expressed pain over the incident on their Facebook pages. Sparetime Recreation, recently renamed to Just-In-Time Recreation, said it had “lost some amazing and whole-hearted people” from its “bowling family and community”.
Current situation in Maine
According to officials, law enforcement agencies and hundreds of officers are still in search of Card. Various US agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ‘s Boston division and the US Department of Homeland Security, have supported Maine officials for the investigation and “victim assistance”.
Officers are also stationed along the Canada-US border to be on the lookout for the suspect. Mills and Biden have ordered all US and state flags to be lowered to half-staff immediately for the next five days in honour of the injured and “in memory of those lost”.
(With agency input)