Maine shooting updates: 18 killed in Lewiston; police say the suspect is still at large
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Residents are balanced between sorrow and fear as authorities search for the suspect in a shooting at a bowling alley and a bar in the town of Lewiston that left at least 18 people dead and 13 others injured.
A manhunt is underway in Maine after mass shootings Wednesday night at a bowling alley and a bar in the town of Lewiston left at least 18 people dead and 13 others injured.
Here's what we're following:
- The suspect: A 40-year-old man, Robert Card, of Bowdoin, Maine, was named by police as the subject of the manhunt.
- Lockdown: Police have issued a shelter-in-place advisory as they search for an "armed and dangerous" gunman still at large.
- Victims: Eight of the 18 victims have been identified, but officials have yet to release their names as an investigation continues.
Celebrities from Maine react to the shooting on social media
Author Stephen King expressed anger over the tragedy he said happened less than 50 miles from his home, and just eight miles from his former high school. He blamed politicians who oppose gun control.
“It’s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing apologists for murder,” King wrote in a post on X.
Actor Patrick Dempsey, a Lewiston native, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the shooting in his hometown that killed at least 18 people and injured 13 others on Wednesday.
“Maine’s great strength is its sense of community, and now we are being asked to come together to support everyone that has been devastated by this senseless act,” he said in an Instagram post.
Lewiston is home to the Dempsey Center, which was founded by the actor to provide care and support for people affected by cancer.
In the wake of the shootings, the center closed its Lewiston and South Portland locations on Thursday.
Police have left the home in Bowdoin
Law enforcement officials have left the home in Bowdoin, Maine, that they had surrounded for several hours.
A first wave of departures began around 8:15 p.m., followed by the remainder about a half hour later.
It was not immediately clear whether suspect Robert Card was present, or whether law enforcement entered the house.
Members of the media had mostly dispersed around 9 p.m.
Police surround Bowdoin home, but it's unclear whether the suspect is inside
Law enforcement officials have descended on the scene of a house on Meadow Road in Bowdoin, Maine, where they have attempted to communicate with the shooting suspect-at-large over loudspeaker.
It wasn’t known whether the suspect, Robert Card, was in the house, according to a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
As the house came under intense media focus, department spokesperson Shannon Moss said in an emailed statement that the loudspeaker announcements being made by law enforcement were standard when executing search warrants.
“Law enforcement officials are simply doing their due diligence by tracking down every lead in an effort to locate and apprehend Card,” Moss said.
Armored vehicles were present, with helicopters overhead and drones in use.
Maine shooting suspect was never official Army firearms instructor, Army says
The suspect in the Lewiston, Maine, shootings was never an official U.S. Army firearms instructor, the Army confirmed, clarifying earlier media reports that had cited state law enforcement.
Several media outlets reported that a notice from the Maine Information and Analysis Center that was circulating among state police said the suspect, Robert Card, is a trained firearms instructor and is believed to be a member of the Army reserve.
Sgt. 1st Class Card is indeed in the Army Reserve, according to the Army.
But if Card is a trained firearms instructor, he did not train for that in the Army, according to a spokesperson for the military branch.
“The Army did not train SFC Card as a firearms instructor, nor did he serve in that capacity for the Army,” an Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee said in a statement shared with NPR.
Rep. Jared Golden calls for a ban of assault rifles, reversing position
Democratic Rep. Jared Golden reversed his opposition to banning assault rifles at a news conference on Thursday evening.
“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles,” Golden said. “I ask for forgiveness and support.”
Lewiston shooting is Maine's deadliest mass shooting in recent history
Wednesday's shootings, which have left 18 people killed and 13 injured, mark the deadliest mass shooting in Maine in recent history, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
Since 1972, when the organization began tracking the incidents, the state has seen four other mass shootings, with the first one occurring in 2014. The GVA defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more are shot, not including the shooter, at the same general time and location.
Despite the state’s relatively weak gun laws, homicides in Maine are uncommon. Yet two of the state’s deadliest mass shootings so far happened this year, spurring gun control advocates to push for stronger restrictions.
In April, a 34-year-old gunman killed four people, including his parents, in the small town of Bowdoin, and injured three others in nearby Yarmouth.
3 shooting victims are in critical condition, 5 are stable at Lewiston hospital
Officials at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston say they're currently caring for eight patients wounded in the mass shooting Wednesday night.
Chief medical officer John Alexander said on Thursday afternoon that five patients are stable, and three are in critical condition.
In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, Alexander said the hospital took in 14 patients within 45 minutes.
"We had approximately 50 providers, nurses, respiratory therapists, working tirelessly on the patients we were seeing here. At one point, we had seven patients in our OR's," Alexander said.
He said the severity of the injuries is unprecedented for the hospital. Three patients died. One was transferred to Maine Medical Center and has since been discharged. Another was transferred St. Mary's Regional Medical Center. Alexander declined to release information about the ages of the patients.
A Jamaican restaurant is giving free food to first responders
Jeff's Jamaican Cuisine, a restaurant in Lewiston, is feeding first responders for free.
"On behalf of Lewiston and the entire state of Maine. THANK YOU!" employees wrote on Facebook. "Stop by and have a light lunch on us."
They included a picture of a white board with a menu, offering Jamaican patties and coco bread, beef, curry chicken and a veggie option.
NPR's Brian Mann, who is on the scene in Lewiston, reports their offer extends to journalists too.
A pastor describes the moment his congregation's phones started ringing
Last night's shooting has left 18 people dead, 13 others injured and an entire community in shock.
Maine Public's Nick Song spoke to one resident about the moment word began to spread:
As the senior pastor for Calvary Chapel Lewiston-Auburn, Aaron Davis was leading a Bible study session Wednesday evening when the phones of a few congregation members began to ring.
"We have quite a few of our members that come out of a certain residential treatment program," he explained. "Members of that house — good, good friends of theirs — they were actually part of this bowling league that was happening last night. They were getting phone calls letting them know their friends were there, they barely got away, they were hiding behind trees at the time."
A shelter-in-place order remains in effect for Androscoggin and northern Sagadahoc counties as the manhunt for the shooter continues.
American Red Cross experiencing increased blood donation interest in New England
People across Maine and New England are seeking to donate blood to help victims in the mass shooting at multiple locations in Lewiston on Wednesday night.
In a statement via email, regional communications director Jennifer Costa said the American Red Cross is experiencing an outpouring of support from the community.
"We are experiencing increased blood donation interest in New England as people look for a way to help," Costa said. "The Red Cross has appointments available to potential donors in the upcoming week. Those interested in donating can visit RedCrossBlood.org and make an appointment. Please know the system operates in real time – and appointment availability is constantly changing."
The bowling alley says it lost 'some amazing and whole hearted people'
Just-In-Time Recreation, one of two locations targeted by the shooter on Wednesday night, said in a Facebook post that "none of this seems real, but unfortunately it is."
"We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night," the post read.
Authorities say one female and six males were found dead at the bowling alley, all from apparent gunshot wounds.
"There are no words to fix this or make it better," the post said, adding that those affiliated with the company are praying for everyone affected by the tragedy.
The shooter went from the bowling alley to Schemengees Bar & Grille, a restaurant some four miles away, where he killed eight males — seven outside and one inside.
"In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason," Schemengees wrote on Facebook earlier today. "We loss great people in this community. How can we make any sense of this."
New Hampshire sends SWAT team, victim advocates and other resources to Maine
New Hampshire officials say they are continuing to offer support on multiple fronts, including sending a SWAT team to assist Maine, as authorities continue to search for the suspect in the shooting. Robert Card, 40, is still at large.
The New Hampshire Department of Justice said it will send three victims advocates to Maine to assist local families affected by the shooting.
New Hampshire Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn urged residents to “stay vigilant” and report any suspicious activity to local police or 911.
A timeline of the mass shooting in Lewiston
Currently there are over 350 law enforcement personnel from across the state involved in the search for Card, in addition to national agencies.
Officials are requesting for anyone with any information on Robert Card or about the shootings please call 207.213.9526 or 207.509.9002.
Bates College postpones inauguration of its first Black president
Bates College in Lewiston was supposed to inaugurate its new president on Friday, but the highly anticipated event has been postponed indefinitely as a result of the mass shooting.
Garry Jenkins, who took office in July, was set to be installed as the college's ninth president — and first Black president — in a ceremony on Friday afternoon.
The school shared a video of chairs lined up in a gymnasium late Wednesday afternoon, writing on X: "We are filled with anticipation for Friday's festivities!"
The stage is (nearly) set for the Inauguration of Garry W. Jenkins as the ninth president of Bates College. We are filled with anticipation for Friday's festivities!— Bates College (@BatesCollege) October 25, 2023
Learn more about President Jenkins, the ceremony, and how you can watch live at https://t.co/5vBuJnsWA1 pic.twitter.com/sQPX2LCDpo
Police received reports of an active shooter at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley less than two hours later. The campus has been on lockdown ever since.
Jenkins informed the community on Thursday that the inauguration and all related events will be postponed to a later date.
He said one college employee was injured in the shooting and is expected to make a full recovery, and that "to the best of our knowledge" two students were near one of the crime scenes but unharmed.
The administration said classes will be cancelled again on Friday. If the lockdown lifts overnight, they said, classes will not be held "so that we can be together in community and to support one another."
Many people reposted the inauguration video on X, noting that what was supposed to be a joyous weekend is now a time for mourning.
"Events like these are supposed to be fun," wrote author Eric Michael Garcia. "Instead this will be associated with the worst day of some people’s lives."
Off-duty medical workers rushed into a Lewiston hospital to help with last night's shooting
A top medical official for Central Maine Medical Center told reporters earlier today that a team of more than 50 medical staff, including off-duty personnel, rushed in to assist an influx of patients in the minutes and hours after Wednesday's mass shooting.
A total of 14 patients were admitted to the hospital network, according to Dr. John Alexander, the Chief Medical Officer there.
"Its been a very challenging 16 hours. We've had heroic efforts by team members," Alexander said.
The first patient arrived at 7:24 p.m. ET — 28 minutes after police received the first 911 call about an active shooter at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley.
A total of eight patients still remain at the facility, Alexander said. Five of the patients were in stable condition and three were listed as critical as of 11:30 a.m. ET.
The Maine Medical Center, located roughly 30 miles south of Lewiston in Portland, said overnight that it'd received one transfer patient from Central Maine Hospital. Maine Medical Center also closed its doors to non-hospital personnel and non-patients as police issued shelter-in-place warnings for the area.
Maine State Police Col. William Ross said earlier in the day that of the 18 victims, three had died after being transported to local hospitals.
"(This) is something that I don't want us to get used to"
Wendy Hart, who is visiting Maine from Lebanon, Tenn., said she was heartbroken when she woke up to the news that a man shot and killed at least 18 people on Wednesday night.
“Nashville just went through this with an elementary school,” Hart said. “It's kind of shocking, and it's something that I don't want us to get used to and it gets brushed under the rug.”
Lewiston looked abandoned on Thursday morning, with desolate parking lots outside the Shaw's supermarket and the Lewiston Mall as a helicopter circled overhead.
Harris urges Congress to tighten gun control laws
Vice President Harris called on Congress to pass tougher gun control laws after the Maine mass shooting.
"Congress can and must make background checks universal. Pass red flag laws. Ban high-capacity magazines. And renew the assault weapons ban," Harris said in a statement.
Harris oversees a new White House office that is looking for ways to prevent gun violence.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the office is in touch with officials in Maine and will look for resources to help the community respond to the tragedy.
The office is looking for other executive actions that the Biden administration can take on gun violence, but big changes would require legislative changes from Congress, Jean-Pierre said.
Harris nodded to Australia's tough gun control laws at a luncheon with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday.
After a mass shooting in 1996, Australia banned automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and had a buyback program that took about 650,000 guns back from people.
"It does not have to be this way, as our friends in Australia have demonstrated," Harris said.
L.L. Bean closes its stores and corporate HQ, citing abundance of caution
Clothing and outdoor retailer L.L. Bean, which is based in Maine, says it is closing its Freeport-based stores on Thursday "out of an abundance of caution."
Freeport is just under 20 miles south of Lewiston.
L.L. Bean said its Lewiston and Brunswick manufacturing facilities, order fulfillment center, returns building, photo studio and corporate headquarters will also be closed, calling the health and safety of their employees and customers its top priority.
"Maine is more than just a place to us; it’s our home, our community, and our family," it wrote on Facebook. "Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy in our beloved state. We urge all of our neighbors to stay safe and look out for one another while we process these events together."
Major banks in Maine are closed
Several major banks in Maine are closing their locations in Lewiston and the surrounding areas and converting the rest to drive-through only.
Camden National Bank says its banking centers in Lewiston, Auburn, Topsham, Brunswick Cooks Corner, Brunswick Maine Street, Richmond and Bath are closed on Thursday. Its other locations are drive-up only.
Bangor Savings Bank says its Lewiston, Auburn and Brunswick branches are closed on Thursday. The rest of its locations vary but are either closed or drive-up only.
TD Bank is also temporarily closing its 39 branches as well as its Maine offices, it told CNN.
The shooting suspect was removed from a military training camp for 'behaving erratically'
The New York National Guard confirmed to NPR that the suspect in Wednesday's shootings, Robert Card, was removed from a military training camp in July after he was seen "behaving erratically."
Here's the full statement that was sent to NPR:
On July 16, 2023, leaders of the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, which was billeted at the Camp Smith Training Site while training at the United States Military Academy, informed garrison staff that Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Robert Card was behaving erratically. Out of concern for his safety, the unit requested that law enforcement be contacted.
New York State Police responded and transported Card to Keller Army Community Hospital at the United States Military Academy for medical evaluation.
A spokesperson for the National Guard said he could not yet confirm what happened after Card was admitted for evaluation.
With shooting suspect still at large, Maine colleges remained closed Thursday
As of Thursday morning, students at Bates College were still being instructed to shelter in place, as the suspect in the 18 shooting deaths remained at large.
Bates’ 133-acre campus lies between the two locations targeted in the shootings, a bowling alley and a restaurant in Maine's second-largest city.
Anntonia Taylor, a Bates senior and Lynnfield native, sheltered for 13 hours in a dance studio before being moved back to her dorm by campus emergency management services. She spoke Thursday morning with WBUR's Radio Boston.
"I've been to that bowling alley with my friends and I've walked past that bar and just, these places that are so real and so connected to Bates," Taylor told Radio Boston. "It's shocking, and upsetting. I'm just trying to understand it all."
Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown spent his postgame conference condemning gun violence
Even after the Sacramento Kings beat the Utah Jazz at their season opener last night, coach Mike Brown didn't want to talk about basketball.
Brown, the 2023 NBA Coach of the Year, opened and closed his postgame press conference by acknowledging the tragedy in Lewiston and pleading for things to change.
He said he heard about the mass shooting after the game and started by saying, "I'm not that smart, but I know we as a country got to do something."
He repeatedly called it a sad day for the country.
"And until we decide to do something about it, the powers that be, this is gonna keep happening," Brown said. "And our kids aren't gonna be able to enjoy what the United States is about, because we don't know how to fix a problem that's right in front of us. Sad."
Brown said he feels for the families, and repeatedly said he didn't know what else to say. After a little over three minutes, he said he didn't feel like talking about sports.
"We played a game. It was fun. Obviously, we won," he said, visibly distressed. "But if we can't do anything to fix this, it's over. It's over. It's over for our country, for this to happen time after time."
Then he walked away.
Who is Robert Card? The suspect is an Army reservist with extensive experience
Police search teams in Maine are on a manhunt to find 40-year-old Robert Card, who faces multiple arrest warrants for murder in the mass shooting Wednesday night.
Card is considered "armed and dangerous" and should not be approached if spotted, police said.
Here’s what we know so far about Card:
Robert R. Card II was born in Maine, in April 1983, according to public records. His most recent address is listed in Bowdoin, just east of Lewiston. He graduated from high school in 2001 and attended the University of Maine.
Card owns a 2013 Subaru Outback; a white car matching that description was found near a boat dock in the nearby town of Lisbon.
A search of public records found no criminal records for the suspected killer.
In a Facebook post, the Lewiston Police Department released what appeared to be a driver's license picture of Card. He appears to be the same person shown in surveillance images from the bowling alley, wearing a brown sweatshirt and carrying an AR-style long gun.
Card has extensive military experience, having enlisted in December 2002, the U.S. Army told NPR.
Card “is a petroleum supply specialist in the Army Reserve,” a service spokesperson said. “He has no combat deployments.”
Card has obtained the rank of sergeant first class, which is above a staff sergeant and below a master sergeant.
“His awards include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal x2, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon,” the army representative said.
The Associated Press and other outlets are reporting that Card suffered from mental health issues, citing a law enforcement bulletin. NPR has not been able to independently verify those reports.
Experts say Maine's mass shooting stands out because of its lengthy manhunt
The manhunt for Lewiston shooting suspect Robert Card is different from others in the U.S. because of its duration and fluid nature. That's according to Jaclyn Schildkraut, a national expert on mass shootings at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
"I think what's different about what is being experienced in Maine ... it's very rare for this type of thing to go this length of time. We've seen other cases where perpetrators have been able to escape the scene, but it was an hour or two hours when they were apprehended," she said.
Speaking Thursday on Maine Calling, Maine Public's daily call-in show, Schildkraut said at a time like this, residents should lean into one another to talk about their feelings and find "warm" connections. She said Maine's Crisis Line is also available to provide support. That number is 1-888-568-1112.
U.S. Sen. Angus King: 'This isn't Maine'
U.S. Sen. Angus King is back in his home state of Maine today following Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting in Lewiston.
On Maine Calling, Maine Public Radio's daily call-in show, King, an independent, said the violence strikes at the heart of Maine's identity.
"We have one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country and one of the lowest rates of gun crimes, and now in one awful night one person has turned that around. I think an important part of the message is this isn't Maine. This isn't consistent with who we are, or who we have been or who we will be," he said.
King says everyone is anxious for the suspect to be found, so that Mainers can move from fear to grieving.
What kind of gun laws does Maine have?
“Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned,” Maine’s state constitution says.
And that about sums it up: In Maine, people age 21 and over don’t need to get a permit before buying, possessing or carrying a rifle like the one reportedly used in the Lewiston mass shooting.
Like most places, minors are also able to get their hands on guns. Hours before Wednesday's shooting, Lewiston police arrested a 17-year-old with a loaded pistol with a large-capacity drum magazine, who was driving without a license.
Everytown, the gun control advocacy group, ranks Maine squarely in the middle of U.S. states for the strength of its gun laws. One of the state’s few restrictions on gun owners is a secure storage law, meant to keep firearms away from children.
"In 2015, Maine enacted a permitless carry law,” the NRA says in its summary of the state’s firearm laws.
Worth noting: Those speaking out against that law in 2015 included then-Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck, who is now the state’s public safety commissioner and is leading efforts to investigate the Lewiston killings and prevent more violence.
"From our perspective, laws and rules and regulations are really made to mitigate risk and not eliminate risk," Sauschuck said in 2015, speaking on behalf of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.
Despite its relatively weak gun laws, Maine doesn’t generally have many gun homicides.
In a normal year, Maine loses far more people to suicides — which make up the vast majority of gun deaths in the state — than to homicide. Maine has been in the top half of U.S. states with the most suicide deaths per capita, according to the most recent data from the CDC.
More on the state's gun laws from Maine Public:
- In April, gun control advocates and opponents turned out in large numbers to testify on proposals to expand Maine's background check requirement and to require buyers to wait 72 hours before taking possession of a firearm.
- Maine's "yellow flag" law could be a model for gun control, but legal experts say it has limitations.
President Biden urged Congress (again) to tighten gun laws
President Biden on Thursday urged people in Maine to heed the warnings of local officials after the mass shooting there and expressed sympathy for the victims and the community.
He also urged Republicans in Congress to tighten gun laws — as he has after many major mass shootings this year.
"For countless Americans who have survived gun violence and been traumatized by it, a shooting such as this reopens deep and painful wounds. Far too many Americans have now had a family member killed or injured as a result of gun violence. That is not normal, and we cannot accept it," Biden said in a statement.
"Today, in the wake of yet another tragedy, I urge Republican lawmakers in Congress to fulfill their duty to protect the American people. Work with us to pass a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to enact universal background checks, to require safe storage of guns, and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers," the statement continues.
Biden has taken executive action on guns and signed into law last year the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in roughly three decades.
But any new gun control legislation is likely to face a familiar uphill battle in a divided Congress.
Supermarkets, schools and municipal buildings in the area remain closed
Hannaford, the Maine-based supermarket chain that kept all of its stores closed statewide until 10 a.m. ET, has reopened most of its locations outside of the area of the manhunt.
It said on Facebook that the following stores will remain closed until further notice: Auburn; Brunswick (Cooks Corner); Brunswick (Elm Street); Gray; Lewiston; Mechanic Falls; Topsham; Turner and Yarmouth.
"Our stores will continue to follow all shelter-in-place advisories and guidance from law enforcement," the company added. "We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and will provide updates as needed."
Public schools, college campuses and municipal buildings in southern Maine and the surrounding areas remain closed as the search for the suspect continues.
Officials confirm Robert Card is a suspect but won't speculate on his motives
Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck declined to answer reporters' questions about Robert Card's weapon, mental health history or possible motive, saying it's too early in the investigation to have those answers, given that the shooting suspect is still at large.
But Sauschuck says those are all things officials will be following up on.
He clarified that Card, who has until now been referred to as a person of interest, is viewed as a suspect now that there are arrest warrants for him on murder charges.
He also declined to elaborate on the ages of the victims, saying that information wasn't immediately available. Responding to a question about whether DNA is being collected for victim identification, Sauschuck said efforts to identify victims and notify their families vary on a case-by-case basis.
He also wouldn't go into detail on why law enforcement officials are targeting particular search areas today, saying only that they are searching actively.
"If I knew the answers to those questions this would be a different press conference," he said.
FBI says it will work 'day and night' to get answers for the community
Jodi Cohen, the FBI special agent in charge of the Boston Division — which oversees the state of Maine — described the investigation as "very active."
She said the FBI is working with its law enforcement partners to process evidence from the scenes as well as provide investigative, tactical and victim support.
The FBI is asking the public to stay vigilant and come forward with any information that might be helpful to investigators.
Cohen promised that the FBI will carry out the case with rigor: "We will work day and night alongside our law enforcement partners to get the answers to the questions this community deserves."
Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck added that when the officials have asked federal officials and other states for any resources, "the answer has been yes. Period."
Maine State Police says 8 of the 18 victims have been identified
Maine State Police Col. William Ross offered an update on the details of last night's shooting, including a timeline of events and what's known about the victims.
He told reporters that police first received reports of an active shooter at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley at 6:56 p.m. ET Wednesday.
At 7:08 p.m., police received multiple 911 calls about an active shooter inside the Schemengees Bar & Grille. Multiple law enforcement teams joined the scene at this point.
Ross offered the following breakdown of what's known about the victims:
- One female and six males were found dead at the bowling alley, all from apparent gunshot wounds.
- Eight males were killed at the bar — seven outside the establishment; one inside.
- Three people died after being transferred to area hospitals for treatment.
- Eight of the 18 victims have been identified and their next of kin have been notified.
Ross said police have issued an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder. He said the counts were likely to increase as more victims are identified.
The person of interest, Robert Card, is still considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached, Ross said.
Today's press conference will be brief since the manhunt is ongoing, officials say
Commissioner for Maine Department of Public Safety Mike Sauschuck says this morning's news conference will be brief because the suspect remains at large.
"We want to provide community support for the victims, for the families and communities across the state, but we also have an incredibly strong, laser-like focus on bringing this suspect into custody and ultimately into justice," he added.
He said many local elected and law enforcement officials wanted to participate in the briefing, but they are keeping the list and agenda short in pursuit of that goal. He said the state police would share more details on last night's timeline and their FBI partners would talk about federal efforts, before officials take brief questions from reporters.
Maine officials say 18 people were killed and 13 injured in last night's shooting
Maine Gov. Janet Mills said at a Thursday press conference that 18 people were killed and another 13 injured in the shootings last night in Lewiston.
She said she and President Biden have ordered all U.S. and Maine flags lowered to half-staff immediately for five days in their honor.
Lewiston, Lisbon and Bowdoin remain under a shelter-in-place order as law enforcement continue searching for Robert Card, whom Mills named as a person of interest and described as armed and dangerous. People should not approach him under any circumstances, she added.
She said all of Maine's 1.3 million residents are sharing in the sorrow of people who lost loved ones.
"This is a dark day for Maine," she said. "I know it's hard for us to think about healing when our hearts our broken. But I want every person in Maine to know that we will heal together. We are strong, we are resilient, we are a very caring people."
Biden has ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff through Monday
President Biden has ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House, all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations and all on U.S. naval vessels — as well as U.S. embassies, consular offices and other facilities abroad — until sunset on Monday.
He said he was doing so "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated ... in Lewiston, Maine."
The U.S. flies its flags at half-staff when the state or a nation is in mourning.
Two women search for their nephew, missing since last night
LEWISTON, Maine — Kelly Mitchell and Kathy Nelson were outside in Lewiston, Maine, Thursday morning, near the site of the continuing manhunt. They were trying to find their missing nephew, whom they identified as Joshua Seal of Lisbon Falls, Maine.
They believe he was at a bar and grill where a gunman opened fire late Wednesday. They’ve texted and attempted to reach his cell phone, but haven’t heard from him.
The women said their sister had asked for help after failing to make contact with her son overnight.
“She can’t find him,” Nelson said. “She’s been up all night trying, looking at the hospitals, calling everybody.”
They said he hadn’t turned up for work today. Seals, who is hearing impaired, works as an interpreter for government officials, including Maine's governor.
“He’s not there and nobody knows where he is,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great young man, he has a wife and children at home and they’re at home waiting for him.”
Mitchell and Nelson said they were struggling to get information from police. They said they believe Seal had gone to the bar to play cornhole with friends.
“It’s craziness. It’s just tragic. It makes you think,” Mitchell said. “We’re just all trying to support one another at this point, trying to find answers.”
Lisbon, Maine, police chief says the manhunt is very actively underway
A group of reporters stopped Lisbon Police Chief Ryan McGee for an impromptu interview on the active manhunt just a few minutes ago.
McGee said the search was very much underway and appealed to local residents to be in touch with any suspicious sightings.
“If you look out in your yard, and you're like, that door wasn't open or that trailer wasn't positioned that way — if you see anything suspicious, please call us," McGee said.
He told CNN earlier this morning that his entire department was out searching, chasing lead after lead.
"We've had everything from people calling about, you know, noises in the basement, noises in the woods, suspicious people, gunshots, all night long since the incident in Lewiston,” McGee said.
Police in Lisbon shared a photo last night of a white SUV, which is believed to belong to the "person of interest" still at large.
Maine State Police are expected to deliver another press conference at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The mayor of neighboring Auburn says 'We will all get strength from each other'
Jason Levesque, the mayor of the town of Auburn, Maine — the nearby sister city of Lewiston — says the mood this morning is "eerily quiet and filled with darkness and sadness."
He told Morning Edition that a shelter-in-place order remains in effect throughout the county, schools are canceled, few cars are on the road and there's a heavy law enforcement presence throughout the area.
Levesque, who was helping reunify families and provide support at the Auburn Middle School, says at this point the reunifications and "the notifications are ongoing." He says people should not come to the middle school with the hope of finding news.
"Stay tight, stay at home. That's the most important thing right now," he said. "We still have an active investigation with a suspect on the loose. We have to understand that's a priority at this point, bringing this individual into custody hopefully very swiftly and severely, and then we can worry about other things as they manifest."
He says the Auburn-Lewiston area is a tight community — they share the bowling alley, and Schemengees Bar & Grille is the place people go to play cornhole and pool and have a nice meal — and what it's going through right now is surreal.
"Every mayor thinks about it when we watch TV and we see something similar to what happened here last night happen in some other part of the country, and we ask ourselves what would we do in that situation?" he says.
Levesque, who is an Army veteran, says there's no amount of talk, training or observation that can prepare someone for this:
"The only thing I have to say is: You will get your strength from your community, and law enforcement professionals — who do train and have been acting extremely professionally and efficiently through this. So we all will get strength from each other."
Hannaford supermarkets are closed throughout the state
The Hannaford supermarket chain says all of its Maine locations will be closed through at least 10 a.m. ET, "following all shelter in place advisories and guidance from law enforcement."
The Maine-based company said in a Facebook post that any store that did open prior to receiving communication is "in the process of transitioning people out of the store."
"This is an evolving situation that requires sensitivity and flexibility, and we’ll provide updates as soon as possible," it said, adding that it was "deeply saddened and horrified by the tragic events in Lewiston" and keeping thoughts and prayers with its associates and community members.
Hannaford has nearly 60 stores in Maine, including one in Lewiston and one in neighboring Auburn, according to its website.
Police dispatch audio reveals how one active shooting call expanded into multiple locations
The first report of an active shooting came in at 6:56 p.m. ET from a bowling alley on the north side of Lewiston, Maine. The police dispatch was captured on radio, and shared on Broadcastify.com.
"What do they got?" an officer's voice can be heard asking. "A shooter … at the bowling place," replies the dispatcher.
Soon police got news of another mass shooting at a restaurant and police started shutting down bars in the area and telling residents to take shelter.
People at a Walmart reported seeing two men brandishing a gun outside the store, and employees sheltered in the cold storage area, the audio shows, though law enforcement officials haven't confirmed this detail.
At another point, the dispatcher can be heard saying that federal officials were checking in:
"I have Homeland Security on the line, they’re wondering if you want their assistance or are you all set?"
Police are searching a road along the Androscoggin River
LEWISTON, Maine — Active searching is underway at 9 a.m. ET in an area of Lewiston along the Androscoggin River.
Police have cordoned off Lincoln Street, about a mile from Schemengees Bar & Grill. A helicopter is flying overhead.
Streets in Lewiston are otherwise mostly empty while residents observe the shelter-in-place order.
Maine had 29 homicides in all of 2022
This mass shooting will send Maine’s homicide rate soaring: The state had 29 homicides in all of 2022, and while the precise death toll in Lewiston isn’t yet known, all of the reported figures are tragically high.
As of now, The Associated Press is reporting that at least 16 people were killed in the shooting in Lewiston; other reports suggest that some 20 people died. Police are expected to release more information at a news conference later this morning.
Last year, three of the murders in Maine took place in Lewiston — all of them involving single killings, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Correction: An earlier headline on this post said the number of homicides was 22.
Why are there so many different death tolls out there?
The Associated Press is reporting that "at least 16" are dead from Wednesday night's shootings. CNN is citing that number on its Chyrons, but was reporting "at least 22" just a few hours ago. The Washington Post, citing the local county sheriff, is reporting "seven victims at the first location."
You've probably noticed that NPR is not reporting a number yet, instead citing Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck, who said only that there were "multiple casualties" during Wednesday's shooting. When pressed, Sauschuck said the numbers were "all over the map."
Sauschuck said the shootings took place at 6:56 p.m. ET, about 13 hours ago, meaning this is still very much a developing story, and some things reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong.
NPR is focusing on reports from law enforcement officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We're committed to bringing you accurate updates as the situation develops in real time.
The next police briefing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET
Maine State Police said early Thursday that they're planning their next news conference with law enforcement for 10:30 a.m ET.
A news conference is scheduled at 10:30 am today at Lewiston City Hall. Please tune into your local TV station's social media and or websites for live streams.— Maine State Police (@MEStatePolice) October 26, 2023
Keep this page handy: We'll bring you live updates and share a livestream.
President Biden and other federal officials have been briefed on the shootings
President Biden has been briefed on the shootings and has spoken to a variety of government officials in Maine, including Gov. Janet Mills, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and Rep. Jared Golden.
Biden has offered "full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack," according to a statement shared by the White House last night.
The Justice Department is also monitoring the situation and offering assistance to state and local law enforcement.
"The Attorney General has been briefed and will continue to closely monitor the situation. Federal law enforcement agencies are assisting our state and local law enforcement partners in Lewiston, Maine," a department spokesperson said in a statement shared with NPR.
The sun is rising in Lewiston, Maine, where residents are still sheltering in place
The sun is rising in southern Maine, where hundreds of police are still searching frantically for a man they're describing as a "person of interest" connected to last night's shooting.
Police have asked people to stay off the roads to give emergency responders easier access to hospitals. The City of Lewiston has said that all municipal buildings will be closed for the day. The Lewiston Public School system canceled classes, sparking dozens of schools across the state to do the same, according to reporting from local news station WGME.
Several of those schools are located in Portland, Maine — about 30 miles from the town of Lewiston where the shootings unfolded.
The police search also expanded overnight to the nearby town of Lisbon, where police said they discovered a car belonging to the person of interest. Police have also issued shelter-in-place warnings for the hometown of the person of interest: Bowdoin, roughly 15 miles east of Lewiston.
The hospital system in Portland, Maine, is closed to visitors as it treats shooting victims
Maine Medical Center, the hospital system in Portland, said overnight that it had alerted on-call staff and created critical care and operating room capacity in anticipation of potential patient transports.
In an emailed statement to local media, the organization said, "At this time, MMC can confirm it will receive one patient transport from Central Maine Medical Center."
"Other MaineHealth facilities are also standing by and preparing to provide care. Out of an abundance of caution and due to the dynamic nature of this situation, MMC and other MaineHealth hospitals have closed their campuses to non-hospital personnel and non-patients until further notice."
One of the shooting sites just posted to their Facebook page
Schemengees Bar & Grille, one of at least two sites targeted in last night's shootings, posted this message to its Facebook page:
"My heart is crushed. I am at a loss for words. In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason. We loss great people in this community. How can we make any sense of this. Sending out prayers to everyone."
It's still unclear whether Schemengees was targeted before or after the other location — a local bowling alley named Just-In-Time Recreation. (You may be seeing some media referring to the bowling alley referred to by its previous name, Sparetime).
Here's the latest on the shootings and manhunt in Lewiston, Maine
Thanks for joining NPR's digital live coverage.
It's nearly 7 a.m. on Thursday in Lewiston, Maine, where overnight shootings sent the region into lockdown as police search for a "person of interest."
Here's what we've reported so far:
A manhunt is underway for a man who is considered a "person of interest" following a series of mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, that left "multiple casualties," officials said Wednesday night.
Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said during a Wednesday night news conference that 40-year-old Robert Card of Bowdoin, Maine, should be considered armed and dangerous and that his car had been found in the nearby town of Lisbon.
Sauschuck said there have been multiple casualties, but declined to give a number of those killed and injured, saying the numbers "are all over the map." Sauschuck said the shootings began at 6:56 p.m. ET.
In a Facebook post, the Lewiston Police Department released what appeared to be a driver's license picture of Card. He appears to be the same person shown in surveillance images wearing a brown sweatshirt and carrying an AR-style long gun as he entered a bowling alley in an earlier photo released by authorities.
The department said members of the public should contact law enforcement if they have more information about his whereabouts.
A shelter-in-place order remains in effect for Androscoggin County, Maine, as authorities search for the suspect in Wednesday's shootings. Previously, the police had instructed people to stay inside with doors locked, citing a "manhunt in the area."
The Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston said it had been responding to a "mass casualty, mass shooter event," and is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients.
Lewiston police say the target of the manhunt is connected to shootings in at least two locations — including Schemengees Bar & Grille, and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley. It is unclear which location was attacked first. It is also not known how many shots were fired in each place.
➡️ Read NPR's full breaking news story on the shootings in Lewiston, Maine.