Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
alert-–-massacre-at-children’s-bowling-league:-robert-card-burst-into-venue-‘packed-with-kids’-and-opened-fire-with-ar-15-style-rifle-as-survivors-fled-down-lanes-and-hid-behind-pins-during-maine-rampage-that-left-at-least-22-dead-and-60-woundedAlert – Massacre at children’s bowling league: Robert Card burst into venue ‘packed with kids’ and opened fire with AR-15-style rifle as survivors fled down lanes and hid behind PINS during Maine rampage that left at least 22 dead and 60 wounded

A ‘highly-skilled’ gunman opened fire on a children’s bowling league in a rampage that killed at least 22 people and wounded 60 in the Maine city of Lewiston – and is still on the run as a ‘shelter-in-place’ advisory has expanded into multiple towns.

Residents of both Lewiston and nearby Lisbon and Bowdoin have been advised to not go outside on Thursday morning as the the gunman remains at large. Public schools have closed in Lewiston and Bowdoin – and also in Portland, the state’s biggest city, which is over 30 miles from Lewiston. 

Police have named previously sectioned Army reserve firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. Card is from Bowdoin, and his abandoned car was found in Lisbon shortly after the shooting. 

The shooter used an AR-15-style rifle to open fire inside the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley at about 7pm Wednesday and then nearby Schemengees Bar and Grille. Lewiston councilor Robert McCarthy said on Thursday morning the death toll was up to 22, and the town was struggling to handle ‘this kind of a shooting event.’

Lewiston, a small city of about 38,000, is on lockdown as police hunt for Card who was sectioned this summer with mental health issues. He previously reported hearing voices and threatened to shoot up his National Guard base in Saco, Maine.

‘Please stay inside your homes while more than 100 investigators, both local and federal work to locate Robert Card who is a person of interest in the Lewiston shootings,’ Maine State police said on Facebook. Lisbon Chief of police Ryan McGee has called the entire police department to assist in the search and closed local businesses. 

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 – with teenagers among the injured. 

Meghan Hutchinson described the horror when her daughter was grazed by a bullet in the bowling alley as they were running away from the gunman.

‘We were in the back room. Another child came in whose arm had a massive … was bleeding profusely. So we barricaded in there and another parent was in the room with me. She had a phone and she called 911,’ the mother told WMTW. 

A gunman has killed at least 22 people and injured 60 in the town of Lewiston, Maine. Police in Lewiston are hunting for the suspect, pictured at the Sparetime recreation center. The first call came in for Sparetime at 7:15pm local time (12.15am BST)

The gunman, wearing a brown hoodie, is seen in Lewiston on Wednesday night. Police believe it is Robert Card

Brandon (pictured) was putting his bowling shoes on when the gunman burst in and opened fire. He ran down the bowling alley and hid where the pins are kept

A woman is hugged by a man at a reunification center at Auburn Middle School after shootings in Lewiston

Police officers in tactical gear get ready in the Lisbon High School gymnasium as an active search for the shooter is underway

Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist and firearms instructor, has been named as the suspect in the murder of 22 people in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday

  • The rampage began at 6:56pm and police in Lewiston, Maine’s second city, were called to Sparetime Recreation bowling alley at 7:15pm.
  • They then received calls from a second location four miles away, Schemengee’s Bar and Grille.  
  • Police have named Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist and firearms instructor, as a ‘person of interest’: he is described as armed and dangerous. 
  • His car has been found abandoned in the town of Lisbon, near the boat dock seven miles from Lewiston, local sheriffs said around 11:20pm 
  • The death toll has been confirmed by the Lewiston city administrator at 22 dead and 50-60 injured: residents of Lewiston and Lisbon are told to shelter in place. 
  • Maine State Police expanded the shelter and school closings to include town of Bowdoin, where Card is from

A heavy police presence is outside the Central Maine Medical Center on Thursday morning, with police standing at every entrance with high powered rifles. The hospital is under lock down and no visitors are allowed. 

The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other federal agents have joined the search. Detectives said they are looking into cellphone signals, social media and electronic records to build a timeline of his movements before the shooting.

The mayor of Auburn, a town next to Lewistown, said on TODAY that some of the witnesses thought the rampage was a Halloween prank.

Jason Levesque said: ‘They thought it was some sort of Halloween joke or something, the initial pops if you would, until everything started escalating quite rapidly.’

An unnamed mother asked for prayers for her 22-year-old son, who was hit four times and is on a ventilator. She told WMTV about 20 other people were waiting for updates on their loved ones at the hospital.

Survivor Riley Dumont said her 11-year-old daughter was playing in the children’s bowling league when she heard several gunshots. She told ABC News her father, a retired police officer, rushed the family into a corner.

‘I kind of laid on top of (my daughter), and my mom was kind of on top of me. We had two other kids with us and two other mothers as well,’ Dumont said. At least seven people were killed in the first shooting.

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. 

Residents of both Lewiston and nearby Lisbon and Bowdoin have been advised to not go outside on Thursday morning as the gunman remains at large

Card’s abandoned car was found in the above area in Lisbon shortly after the shooting

A heavy police presence is outside the Central Maine Medical Center on Thursday morning, with police standing at every entrance with high powered rifles

Describing the moment that the shooter opened fire, Brandon 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.

Brandon, who stayed on top of the machines for about ten minutes until the cops arrived, said that the gunman was around 15ft behind him. ‘He was close, very close,’ he added.

‘I just went there to bowl by myself and I wasn’t even in there 10 minutes, I just walked in the place. I was putting on my bowling shoes when it started. I’ve been barefoot for five hours.’

Jason J. Levesque told CNN that the youngest victims of the shootings were teenagers, adding that trauma specialists and grief counselors were at the scene. 

Chilling CCTV images show Card, from Bowdoin, Maine, pointing his rifle as he walked into the bowling alley, while dramatic footage shows terrified people running for their lives. 

CCTV images show how the shooter was armed with a rifle when he carried out the mass shooting

Police issued a photo of this car which they believe belongs to Card. Sheriffs said at 11:20pm on Wednesday the car was found abandoned in the town of Lisbon, about seven miles away

Residents have been told to stay at home and lock their doors with the gunman still at large. This is the deadliest attack of the 565 mass shootings in the US this year.

Officers have confirmed that Card’s vehicle – a 2013 white Subaru – was found near the boat dock in Lisbon, about seven miles southeast of Lewiston, but the suspect was not inside. 

The ‘armed and dangerous’ shooter was holding an AR 15-style rifle with a laser optic when he burst into the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley at 7:15pm local time.

Police then received calls about a shooting at a second location, Schemengees Bar and Grille, which was around four miles away. A spokesperson for the bar said: ‘My heart is crushed. I am at a loss for words.’

They said that their world was ‘turned upside down for no good reason’, adding: How can we make any sense of this? Sending out prayers to everyone.’

Concerned friends and family members of possible victims are desperately hunting for information as they claim police won’t tell them who the casualties are as it is an ongoing investigation.

Police were knocking on doors of homes in the local area, while helicopters remained in the area Wednesday night.

A shelter-in-place order remains in effect for Lewiston, and is also now in place in Lisbon, where Card’s car was found, and Bodwoin, where he is from. 

Authorities have opened a reunification center at Auburn Middle School. Armed police were searching anyone coming onto the grounds.

Dozens of anxious relatives were hurried inside by officers, and saw one woman sobbing behind the wheel of her car.

Police officers surround an armored law enforcement vehicle parked on the parking lot of the Lisbon High School gymnasium

Law enforcement vehicles drive on the parking lot of the Lisbon High School gymnasium

A police officer in tactical gear gets ready in the Lisbon High School gymnasium

A law enforcement officer walks along the road leading to the Schemengees bar where the gunman opened fire

Card remains on the run: police have said he is driving a white Subaru

Card, from Bowdoin, Maine, is seen on a fishing trip

Shocked residents leave a reunification center early on Thursday morning after the mass shootings

At least a dozen local officers surrounded the school, with volunteers taking emotional family members inside.

Lewiston city councilor Robert McCarthy said 22 people were dead, with 50-60 injured. Some reportedly had injuries from a stamped. Maine’s hospitals said they were declaring a mass casualty event. The death toll, which could yet rise, is the largest from a mass shooting this year.

Card’s sister-in-law told The Daily Beast they were in shock. 

‘I am with police right now and my children [are] terrified and shaken, so I do not have a comment on anything right now,’ she said. 

Sheriff Eric Samson of Androscoggin County said at least seven people had been fatally shot at the bowling alley. 

The sheriff also announced at 11:20pm that officers had found Card’s vehicle near the boat dock in Lisbon, but the suspect was nowhere to be seen. 

McCarthy said he had been told that a children’s party was taking place at Sparetime when the gunman opened fire. 

Nichoel Wyman Arel, who was passing by the site, told CNN’s Laura Coates that she saw a large number of children pouring out of the bowling alley.

Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, said her staff immediately locked their doors and moved all 25 customers and employees away from the doors after a customer reported hearing about the shooting at the bowling alley less than a quarter-mile away. Soon, the police flooded the roadway and a police officer eventually escorted everyone out of the building.

‘I am honestly in a state of shock. I am blessed that my team responded quickly and everyone is safe,’ Small said. ‘But at the same time, my heart is broken for this area and for what everyone is dealing with. I just feel numb.’

Mike Sauschuck, a law enforcement spokesperson in Lewiston, said Card ‘is considered armed and dangerous.’  ‘If people see him they should not approach him in any way,’ he added.

Justin Juray, an owner of Sparetime, described the scene as ‘total chaos.’  He said in a text message to The New York Times that there were about 100 to 150 people, including 20 children, at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting. 

Meanwhile, it was cornhole night at Schemengees.

‘It was just a fun night playing cornhole… it’s the last thing you’re expecting, right?’ said co-owner Kathy Lebel. 

She told The Sun Journal: ‘I still feel like this whole thing is a nightmare.’

Maria Wilson, who’s friend Arthur Strout may be missing, broke down in tears while speaking to media outside of Auburn Middle School. 

She explained how she was told her friend  – who was playing pool at the bar – was ‘definitely alive’ by police only for them to later say he was not at the scene.

Wilson, who does not know where her friends is, told reporters: ‘It’s not fair to give us false hope. And now we don’t know what’s going on. We’ve called everywhere. 

‘Cops are saying that they will not confirm or deny anybody being there because of its, you know, ongoing investigation. 

‘We have the right to know as a family if people are alive. He’s a close family friend, and we had like, probably 15 people waiting in the hospital because we were told he was alive.’

Maria said her friend was playing pool and the person he was playing with is in a critical condition. ‘This whole thing is heartbreaking,’ she added.

One man inside the bar told the mayor of Auburn, Jason Levesque, that he heard ‘a couple of pops’, but did not think anything of it as it was around Halloween.

Levesque told CNN’s Laura Coates it was only when people began running and screaming that he realized something was wrong. 

A source told a Sun Journal reporter that there were 14 to 16 gunshot victims at Schemengees. 

Dozens of anxious and distressed residents were hurried inside a reunification center at Auburn Middle School by officers 

Police are pictured stationed outside the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Wednesday night

Police are seen guarding the Central Maine Medical Center on Wednesday night in Lewiston

Law enforcement outside of Schemengees Bar, Lewiston, Maine. October 26, 2023

Police received calls about a shooting at a second location, Schemengees Bar and Grille, which was around four miles away. A spokesperson for the bar said: ‘My heart is crushed. I am at a loss for words.’ They said that their world was ‘turned upside down for no good reason’, adding: How can we make any sense of this? Sending out prayers to everyone.’

Joe Biden’s state dinner with the prime minister of Australia was interrupted to inform the president of the incidents.

Biden later rang the governor of Maine and both senators, and said the federal government was ready to assist in every way possible.

FBI operatives stationed in Boston said that the Bureau was ready to assist with the search.

‘The FBI Boston Division continues to coordinate with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Maine and we stand ready to assist with any available resources they need, including evidence response, investigative and tactical support, as well as victim assistance,’ the Bureau said.

A photo issued by sheriffs showed a white man with an AR-15-style rifle and a laser optic entering the Sparetime recreation center, wearing black combat trousers and a brown top. His face is clearly visible.

Police in Lewiston issued a photo of the white station wagon they were seeking, saying it could have a black-painted bumper. 

‘There is an active shooter situation in the city of Lewiston,’ said Maine state police. 

‘Law enforcement is asking people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked.’ 

The local hospital said at 9pm they could not confirm casualties.

‘Central Maine Healthcare is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients,’ the hospital said.

The Maine Medical Center in Portland, which has the most advanced trauma center in the state, confirmed it has received one patient transferred from a Lewiston hospital.

Derrick St. Laurent, a Lewiston spokesman, told the Sun Journal that police were then called to a third location, a Walmart distribution center at 8:15pm, but Joe Pennington, a Walmart spokesman, said: ‘This shooting did not occur on Walmart property.’ 

McCarthy told CNN: ‘They have set up the National Guard center as a triage center.

‘The hospitals have called up all off-duty staff. Our hospitals are not geared to cope with this, but they are doing the best they can.

‘We are blessed with the best police in the state, and I am sure they are doing all they can.’

McCarthy said his own home was near the bowling alley, and they were barricaded inside with their guns. 

‘The bowling alley is in a business park,’ he said. There were two restaurants next door, and a lot of patrons ran there.

‘The other bar is way across town, on the outskirts of the city. There are also reports that the doors were shot out at the Walmart distribution center.’

Asked about efforts to identify the gunman, McCarthy said: ‘They have a picture of a vehicle they believe he was in, and they have some unique characteristics – the front bumper is black. I’m told they have the plate number. I’m told they are looking for him hard.’

Footage shared on social media showed police racing to the scene of Lewiston, 35 miles north of Portland and 35 miles south of the capital, Augusta.

The city of Auburn, just across the Androscoggin River, has also warned residents to remain indoors.

‘**ALERT: There is an active shooter incident in progress in the City of Lewiston,’ they wrote on X. 

‘ALL Auburn & Lewiston residents are strongly urged to shelter in place, lock all doors & report suspicious individuals and activities to 9-1-1. 

‘Most businesses in the area have closed/are closing.**’

Bates College, a private liberal arts college in Lewiston, is on lockdown, according to The New York Times. 

Dozens of students are sheltering on the top floor of the college library, crouched down among the books and scrolling through social media for updates.

Lessons are cancelled for Thursday. 

‘We know that these events have shocked and frightened our community,’ said Geoffrey Swift, the college’s vice president for finance and administration. 

‘And we grieve for those whose lives were tragically lost in this heinous act of violence.’ 

People are seen running from the scene of a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine

Crowds scattered after shots rung out on Wednesday evening

Police in Lewiston, Maine are seen rushing to reports of two shootings – one at a bar, one at a bowling alley

Janet Mills, the governor of Maine, said in a statement she was aware of the shootings and had been briefed.

‘I urge all people in the area to follow the direction of State and local enforcement,’ Mills said in the statement. 

‘I will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with public safety officials.’

Maine has a fairly high level of gun ownership, and relatively lax laws: Roughly half of its households have firearms, according to research cited by Maine public radio last year.

There is no independent background check system, no red flag law to identify those at extreme risk for gun violence, no requirement that convicted domestic abusers turn in their guns and no permit requirements for concealed weapons. 

Card, as a certified firearms instructor, would have had no problem in obtaining weapons. 

But unlike many states with such a large supply, it sees relatively few fatal shootings each year: 89 percent of gun deaths are suicide, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

‘There’s no large cities in Maine,’ said Representative Chellie Pingree, a Democrat. 

‘So this isn’t like being in Dallas or New York City. It’s a very tight-knit community in spite of the fact that it’s a city, and I’m just sure there’s just an enormous number of grieving families.’ 

Carl Sheline, the mayor of Lewiston, said he is ‘heartbroken for our city and our people’.

He added: ‘Lewiston is known for our strength and grit, and we will need both in the days to come.’ 

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, tweeted his condolences, and expressed his anger at the shooting.

‘Devastating news out of Maine. A mass shooting. Multiple locations. At least 16 dead, 50 injured, and thousands of lives forever changed,’ he wrote on X. 

‘We don’t have to live like this, and we definitely don’t have to die like this.’

On Monday, the superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools, Jake Langlais, wrote to parents to inform them that he had been made aware of threats to the school – but they had determined the person making the threats was 10 years old, and lived in the midwest. 

‘The individual responsible for the message that was threatening to LHS last night has been identified,’ wrote Langlais, in a letter obtained by News Center Maine.

‘Law enforcement has made contact and the situation has been taken care of.’ 

He said that school would operate as normal on Monday. 

There is nothing to suggest that the threats to the school and Wednesday’s shooting are connected. 

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