18 confirmed dead, 13 injured in Lewiston mass shootings as manhunt continues
State and federal law enforcement officials say they're still searching for the Bowdoin man they believe is responsible for what appears to be the worst mass shooting in Maine history. Authorities are providing little information about the ongoing manhunt, but they provided a timeline of the shootings that killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at two different locations in Lewiston over a short period on Wednesday evening.
Gov. Janet Mills and police officials would not discuss the shooter's potential motives, the weapon he used or details of a search that the Maine State Police say involves 350 law enforcement officials, including the FBI.
Mills, her voice raspy from a long night of briefings, said much was still not known about the shootings, but she vowed to commit significant resources to apprehend the suspect, Robert Card.
"The full weight of my administration is behind law enforcement's efforts to capture the person of interest, Robert Card, to hold whoever is responsible for this atrocity accountable under the full force of state and federal law and to seek full justice for the victims and their families," she said.
Card is a 40-year-old man from Bowdoin and a U.S. Army reservist. The New York National Guard confirmed to NPR that Card was removed from a military training camp in July after he was seen "behaving erratically."
Yet little is known about what happened to Card after he was sent to Keller Army Community Hospital for medical evaluation.
Also not known is how he might have come into possession of the assault-style rifle that was captured on security footage at the Lewiston bowling alley where six men and one woman were ultimately killed Wednesday evening.
"Those are all valid questions and certainly questions that we are looking into now, but not questions that we can answer today," Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said.
"Our reality for today is that this suspect is still at large," Sauschuck said. "We want to provide community support for the victims, for the families in communities across the state. But we also have an incredibly strong, laser-like focus on bringing this suspect into custody, and ultimately, to justice."
Maine State Police Col. William Ross said that Card is currently facing 8 counts of murder, a number likely to rise after police identify the other ten victims.
Ross also sketched a rough timeline of the attacks. He said the first call of an active shooter at Just-in-Time Recreation came in shortly before 7 p.m. and that reports of another shooting four miles away at Schemengees Bar & Grille came about 12 minutes later.
Ross did not release the names of the victims and instead provided a numbers of men and women killed at the bowling alley and the bar.
"The victims at the Just-in-Time establishment, seven people are deceased there, one female and six males. All from an apparent gunshot wound," Ross said. "Victims at the Schemengees billiards … eight are deceased, seven males inside the establishment, one male outside of the establishment. Again of apparent gunshot wounds."
Ross said three more victims died after being transported to local hospitals.
The press conference at Lewiston City Hall marked the first time that law enforcement officials confirmed the number of casualties.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the suspect was still at large and shelter-in-place orders were implemented for all of Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties.
There was a heavy police presence in Lewiston and Auburn beginning Wednesday night, including around Central Maine Medical Center, where family members gathered to find information about loved ones. A woman who declined to give her name said she came after she received an upsetting phone call from her sister.
"And said, 'I am in an active shooting situation right now. And I'm hunkered in the back of the bar. He's got a gun. We're trying to shut the lights off. I want to tell everybody that I love them, and I've gotta go, I've gotta go I've gotta go,'" she said.
A reunification center was set up at Auburn Middle School Wednesday evening for friends and relatives to share and receive information, but very few residents or center staffers were on site Thursday morning as a shelter-in-place order remained in effect.
Aaron Davis, senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Lewiston-Auburn, came to the school to offer support and met with a family that was at the bowling alley when the shooting occurred.
"They were just seeking some type of counseling for their daughter. They knew she was broken up, they knew she saw something no human being should ever see, never mind a 10-year-old. They expected to find a reunification center, and they didn't have one," he said.
Many area schools were closed Thursday along with Lewiston municipal offices and some businesses.
Portland and Lewiston’s hospital systems are closed to visitors and police have asked people to stay off local roads to give responders easy access to hospitals.
The director of communications for LifeFlight of Maine says service to Central Maine Medical Center was augmented in response to the shootings.
Henry Frank says he can't discuss patient transfers, but acknowledged that LifeFlight's crew that is stationed at CMMC was quickly supported by other lifeflight crews in Bangor and Sanford.
"Units of blood were brought from our base in Bangor and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center to be used in patient care at Central Maine Medical Center," he said, "and our clinical crew were able to help augment staffing at Central Maine."
Frank says additional helicopter crews flew in from Boston in what he called a quick and well-coordinated response. He says 15 flight nurses and paramedics responded to augment CMMC’s staffing — 11 from LifeFlight of Maine and four from Boston MedFlight.
Elected officials from Maine and across the country expressed sorrow but also support for Maine following Wednesday's deadly mass shooting.
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden said he was "horrified" by the event in his hometown of Lewiston and said his heart was breaking for those affected. Golden urged people to "follow the directions of the authorities as they conduct their work."
According to the White House, President Joe Biden spoke with Gov. Janet Mills and members of Maine's congressional delegation, offering whatever federal support the state needed. Sen. Angus King's office says he planned to board the first flight back to Maine from Washington on Thursday. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also expressed shock and sadness at the shootings.
The incident — one of more than 500 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive — is attracting international headlines and drawing responses from officials in Washington, D.C.
President Biden issued a statement on Thursday, saying he and first lady Jill Biden were mourning the loss of life and thinking of others injured or affected.
"I also urge area residents to heed the warnings and guidance of local officials," Biden said. "Numerous Federal law enforcement personnel are on the scene and actively working with state and local partners. As I told Maine Governor Janet Mills, Senators Collins and King, and Congressman Golden last night, I have directed my administration to provide everything that is needed to support the people of Maine. We will continue to be there every step of the way. 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."
People with any information about Card or the shootings in Lewiston are asked to call the Maine State Police at (207) 213-9526 or (207) 509-9002. Officials warn that people should not approach Card under any circumstances.
This story was originally published October 25, 2023 at 8:53 PM EDT.