LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — A man fatally shot at least 16 people at a restaurant and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night, sparking a massive search for a person of interest who is a trained firearms instructor. Meanwhile, authorities urged residents to lock themselves in their homes and schools announced closures on Thursday.
The shooting in the state’s second-largest city is the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. The database includes every mass killing since 2006 from all weapons in which four or more people, excluding the offender, were killed within a 24-hour time frame.
Here’s what we know about the suspect and where the shooting happened:
Who is the suspect?
A police bulletin identified Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest in the attack. Card was described as a firearms instructor believed to be in the Army Reserve and assigned to a training facility in Saco, Maine.
The document, circulated to law enforcement officials, said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023. It did not provide details about his treatment or condition, but said Card had reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” the military base.
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released two photos of the suspect on its Facebook page that showed the shooter walking into an establishment with a weapon raised to his shoulder.
Where did the shooting take place?
Lewiston Police said they were dealing with an active shooter incident at Schemengees Bar and Grille and at Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) away. A number of parents and children were at Sparetime as part of a children’s bowling league.
The bowling alley is about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of the Bates College campus, on the outskirts of downtown, and offers traditional tenpin bowling and candlepin, a variant found in New England.
Lewiston is the second-largest city in Maine with a population of 37,000. It emerged as a major center for African immigration into Maine. The Somali population, which numbers in the thousands, has changed the demographics of the once overwhelmingly white mill city into one of the most diverse in northern New England.
Maine has a longstanding culture of gun ownership tied to traditions of hunting and sport shooting. The state doesn’t require permits to carry guns.
The death toll was staggering for a state that in 2022 had 29 homicides the entire year.
Shelter in place, schools and facilities closed
A shelter-in-place advisory was issued Wednesday for Androscoggin County, including the community of Lisbon, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) away, after a “vehicle of interest” was found there, authorities said. It was extended Thursday to Bowdoin, which is in Sagadachoc County.
Local schools, including those in Lewiston, Lisbon and Auburn, were closed Thursday and schools as far away as Kennebunk, an hour from Lewiston, reported closing out of caution.
Central Maine Healthcare said Thursday it was closing all physician offices in Lewiston and six surrounding communities for the day. All elective surgery was canceled at Central Maine Medical Center.