Eighteen people were killed and 13 injured in what was the worst mass shooting incident in Maine history, as a manhunt involving at least 100 law enforcement personnel was underway in Maine Thursday morning.
Governor Janet Mills, saying she was “deeply saddened,” updated the public at a news conference Thursday morning.
“This is a dark day for Maine,” she said, adding firmly that “we will heal together.”
The suspect in the shootings was still at large Thursday afternoon. Authorities also released a timeline of the events. (See below)
Authorities said Thursday that 40-year-old Robert R. Card II is a suspect in the deaths. Arrest warrants have been issued for eight counts of murder and that number will likely grow as the victims are formally identified.
Card, a resident of Bowdoin, is a firearms instructor trained by the military, according to a police bulletin viewed by the Associated Press, and was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this past summer.
“The document also said Card had reported hearing voices and had threatened to carry out a shooting at the military training base in Saco, Maine,” the AP reported.
The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that police, fire and rescue personnel descended on Sparetime Recreation, which was recently renamed Just-In-Time Recreation, on Mollison Way about 7:15 p.m. during a youth bowling night.
Shortly afterward, reports came in that there was another shooting four miles away at Schemengees Bar & Grille on Lincoln Street.
“In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason,” the bar and grill said in a statement released on its Facebook page. (More statements of reaction below.)
Colonel William Ross of the Maine State Police said Thursday that seven people were shot and killed at Just-In-Time Recreation, including one woman and six males. He said eight people were killed at the bar and grill. Three others died at hospitals.
It appears to be the worst mass shooting in Maine history. The Associated Press reported that the shooting was the country’s 36th mass killing this year. The AP and USA Today maintains a database with Northeastern University. At least 188 people have died in those killings, which are defined as incidents in which four or more people have died within a 24-hour period, not including the killer — the same definition used by the FBI.
Separately, The Trace, a nonprofit dedicated to covering guns and shootings, reported in early October that in 2023 there have been 531 incidents in which four or more people were wounded or killed with guns. The Trace cited Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings through news and police reports.
A shelter in place order was ordered for Lewiston, Lisbon and Bowdoin, officials said Thursday. People are asked to stay off the streets.
A vehicle of interest was located in Lisbon Wednesday night, according to a notice distributed to The Maine Monitor, and law enforcement is asking Lisbon residents to shelter in place as authorities work in the area to locate Card.
Those who notice anything suspicious are asked to call 911.
Edward Davis, who was Boston’s police commissioner during the 2013 Marathon bombings, said the shelter in place order was somewhat similar to what occurred in his city during a days long manhunt for the suspects. One big difference: greater Boston is an urban environment, whereas the area being searched in Maine is largely rural.
Davis said investigators typically scour social media, interview acquaintances, identify possible vehicles and boats, track cell phone usage, and look at surveillance video to locate a suspect who is trying to evade police.
Authorities said Thursday that investigators from all over Maine and New England were assisting in the investigation, along with FBI and ATF agents, and others.
In Auburn, Maine Monitor reporter Emily Bader reported that Mayor Jason Levesque said that at least 40-50 people were reunified with their worried loved ones at Auburn Middle School shortly after midnight Thursday. They had been brought over by a city bus after giving statements to police. More people were likely to be brought to the school as the night went on.
“At this point, there is a significant amount of shock going on with people that were actually witnesses…,” Levesque said. “Obviously when I was bringing people in that were looking for their loved ones, there is fear, there is panic, there’s worry. Understandable.”
“But the people that were actually there tonight, it was what I didn’t hear. It’s shock. It’s hard for me to explain,” Levesque said. “I just want people to home and hold their families.”
One man told the Monitor that his adult daughter had started her first night at a bowling league at Sparetime Recreation. He said his daughter was next to the shooting suspect at the bowling alley when he burst in. She bolted out of the bowling alley and into the nearby woods.
“I have four daughters and she’s the toughest but this destroyed her,” the man said.
Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, told the Associated Press that 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 around 7 p.m.
“I am honestly in a state of shock. I am blessed that my team responded quickly and everyone is safe,” Small told The Associated Press. “But the same time, my heart is broken for this area and for what everyone is dealing with. I just feel numb.”
Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, in a post on Facebook, said “I am heartbroken for our city and for our people. Lewiston is known for our strength and our grit and we will need both in the days to come.”
A timeline of events
(Maine State Police released the following timeline)
At 6:56 p.m., Wednesday, October 25, 2023 Auburn Communications Center was notified that a man walked into the Spare Time Recreation on Mollison Street in Lewiston and began shooting. This was confirmed by multiple 911 calls that followed.
At 7:08 p.m., The Auburn Communications Center received multiple calls that a man had come into Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street and began shooting.
Multiple law enforcement agencies and emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the scenes.
At 8:06 pm, police released a photo of the shooter to the media.
At 9:26 p.m., the Lewiston Police Department received a call identifying the man in the distributed photos as Robert Card, age 40, of Bowdoin, Maine.
At 9:56 p.m., the Lisbon Police Department notified Lewiston Police that they had located a white Subaru at the Pejepscot Boat Launch in Lisbon. The vehicle was identified as belonging to Robert Card.
Police have confirmed that there were seven people killed at Sparetime Recreation, and eight people killed at Schemengees Bar and Grille. Three addition people died after being transported to Central Maine Medical Hospital in Lewiston for treatment. An additional 13 people were injured in the shootings.
Names of the victims are not available at this time as police continue to identify victims and contact family members.
Currently there are over 350 law enforcement personnel involved in the search for Robert Card, comprised of officers from all over the state, and national agencies as well.
If anyone has any information on Robert Card or about the shootings please call 207.213.9526 or 207.509.9002.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Statements and reaction to the shootings:
Schemengees Bar and Grill: “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.”
Just-In-Time Recreation: “None of this seems real, but unfortunately it is. We are devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night. There are no words to fix this or make it better. We are praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”
Central Maine Medical Center: “Central Maine Medical Center is reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event.”
Maine Medical Center: “Maine Medical Center has alerted on-call staff and created critical care and operating room capacity in anticipation of potential patient transports coming from the Lewiston shooting this evening. 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.”
White House: “The President spoke by phone individually to Maine Governor Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and Congressman Jared Golden about the shooting in Lewiston, Maine and offered full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack.”
Gov. Janet Mills: “I am aware of and have been briefed on the active shooter situation in Lewiston. I urge all people in the area to follow the direction of State and local enforcement. I will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with public safety officials.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland: “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.”
Sen. Susan Collins: “As our state mourns this horrific mass shooting, we appreciate the support we’ve received from across the country, including the call I received from President Biden offering assistance.”
Sen. Angus King: “Senator King is deeply sad for the city of Lewiston and all those worried about their family, friends and neighbors. He’s receiving regular updates, awaits further details from local authorities, and will be headed directly home to Maine once the Senate’s final vote is held tomorrow afternoon. Given the shelter in place currently underway, he asks all in Androscoggin County to allow first responders to address the threat, stay indoors, and report any suspicious behavior to the local authorities.” (Later): “President Biden just reached out to Senator King directly and offered any federal assistance he can provide to help the people of Maine. Senator King expressed his deep appreciation to the President for the outreach and support. Given the horrific nature of the events in Maine, Senator King will now be headed to Maine on one of the first flights available — he wants to be home to support Lewiston in any way he can.”
Rep. Jared Golden: “Like all Mainers, I’m horrified by the events in Lewiston tonight. This is my hometown. Right now, all of us are looking to local law enforcement as they gain control of the situation and gather information. Our hearts break for those who are affected and we encourage everyone to follow the directions of the authorities as they conduct their work.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree: “I am closely monitoring the reports of mass shootings in Lewiston. The unfolding violence is shocking and I am holding the affected communities in my prayers.”