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A large manhunt is underway for a gunman who opened fire at a Lewiston, Maine, bar and bowling alley Wednesday evening in what police called mass shootings.
The suspect has not been identified, but a man called a “person of interest” — Robert R. Card, 40, of Bowdoin — was being sought after the shootings shortly before 7 p.m., authorities said.
“Card is considered armed and dangerous,” Maine State Police said in a notice. “If seen people should not approach Card or contact with him.”
The number of victims remained unclear from officials on the record. Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said late Wednesday that there were “multiple casualties” but did not specify a number.
The number of people believed to be killed in the shootings is 15 to 20, and as many as 50 may be injured, according to law enforcement sources.
Lewiston police said there were mass shootings at Schemengees Bar and Sparetime Recreation. Sparetime is a bowling alley.
Photos released by law enforcement as they search for a suspect showed a man with a hooded sweatshirt and a black rifle with what appeared to be a scope.
President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland were following developments.
Biden in phone calls to Maine’s governor and members of Congress pledged the full support of the federal government.
A vehicle that had been sought in the wake of the shootings was found in Lisbon, a town around 7 miles southeast of Lewiston. Residents in Lewiston, nearby Auburn and Lisbon were told to shelter in place and keep their doors locked Wednesday.
What we know about the shootings in Lewiston, Maine
- Fifteen to 20 people have been killed and up to 50 may be injured, according to law enforcement sources.
- Police named Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest in connection with the shootings at Schemengees Bar and Sparetime Recreation.
- Officials have urged residents in Lewiston and Auburn to shelter in place. Lewiston police said a "manhunt" is underway for a person allegedly connected to the shootings.
- The Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office released photos of a man with a rifle.
- Lewiston is a city of around 37,000 almost 30 miles north of Portland.
‘We’re hoping and praying’ victims are OK, man says
Jeremy Janes said he was working at a foundry near Schemengees bar when they heard gunshots and locked down the facility.
“Immediately, we locked down and closed our doors, and we closed the shop,” Janes told NBC Boston outside of a hospital in Lewiston.
A friend of Janes' said his 21-year-old son was shot, and Janes said he heard he was shot one time “and he’s doing OK.”
“We’re hoping and praying that everyone’s OK, and he’s OK,” Janes told the station.
Offices in Lisbon, where vehicle was found, closed Thursday
All town offices will be closed Thursday in Lisbon, the community of around 9,700 where a vehicle that was being sought in the Lewiston shootings was found, the town said.
“Law enforcement in Androscoggin County are investigating two active shooter events. All town offices will be closed on October 26th. Please prioritize safety and continue to shelter in place,” the town said on its website.
Lewiston also said all of its offices were closed. Shelter-in-place orders were issued in both cities. A gunman has not been apprehended.
Photo: Police secure the area around Central Maine Medical Center
Law enforcement officers carry rifles outside Central Maine Medical Center during an active shooter situation, in Lewiston on Wednesday evening.
The number of people thought to be killed in the shootings is 15 to 20, according to law enforcement sources.
NBC News earlier reported that 22 people had been killed, citing a Lewiston police source.
Up to 50 people may be injured, not all of whom were shot. Some reportedly had injuries from a stampede, the sources said.
All Lewiston municipal buildings closed Thursday
The city of Lewiston said that all municipal buildings will be closed Thursday as the hunt for a shooter in the city Wednesday evening continues, the city government said.
Schools are also closed. People were told to shelter in place after the shootings. Police identified a bar and a bowling alley as scenes.
The city said that non-emergency personnel should stay home.
Reunification center at Auburn Middle School
A reunification center was set up at Auburn Middle School after shootings in Lewiston, state police said.
People who have questions about their loved ones can go to the school at 38 Falcon Drive in Auburn, police said.
Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque told NBC affiliate WCSH that witnesses were from the two locations were taken to an area to be cleared and interviewed, and then bussed there for a reunification process.
Of the witnesses “it was all ages,” he said. “I just talked to some teenagers,” Levesque said. “It was all ages.”
Person of interest studied engineering at University of Maine
The person of interest in connection with the shootings studied engineering at the University of Maine about 20 years ago, a school representative said.
Card was a student there from 2001 to 2004, though it was not immediately clear whether he graduated, University of Maine spokesperson Eric Gordon told NBC News early Thursday.
Gordon said he did not have access overnight to any other student information about Card.
Photo: Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston
Law enforcement officers respond to shootings in multiple locations in Lewiston, about 45 minutes north of Portland, on Wednesday evening.
No shooting at Walmart distribution center despite early reports of gunfire there
A Walmart distribution center was locked down as gunfire erupted in Lewiston, but there was no shooting at that location, a company spokesman said.
An early police statement had said shots were fired at three businesses: a bowling alley, a restaurant and a Walmart distribution center. Officers explored the Walmart distribution center and didn’t find any suspects or victims, the company said.
"There was no shooting on Walmart’s property," Walmart representative Joe Pennington said. "The distribution center was locked down and police searched the facility. They did not find anything and no one was hurt. "
Public safety commissioner reports multiple casualties but does not confirm number
The commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety said late tonight that there were multiple casualties in shootings in Lewiston but did not release a number.
At around 6:56 p.m., “a couple of shooting incidents occurred here with multiple casualties” in Lewiston, Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said at a news conference.
Sauschuck would not release a number. "This is a very fluid situation," he said. He said he did not have firm numbers but that once he did they would be released.
A search for the gunman continues. “Literally hundreds” of police officers in Maine are working on the case, Sauschuck said. A "person of interest," Robert Card, is being sought. He is not being called a suspect.