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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.
Person of interest had recently threatened to shoot up Maine National Guard base, bulletin says
Maine law enforcement officials said late tonight that they are looking for a 40-year-old man named Robert Card, whom they identified as a “person of interest” in the fatal shootings at a bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston.
A bulletin put out by the Maine Information and Analysis Center, a database for law enforcement officials, said Card was a trained firearms instructor and was believed to be in the Army Reserve.
It added that law enforcement said Card “recently reported mental health issues to include hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, ME.”
The bulletin said Card was reported to have been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this summer and then released. NBC News has not been able to independently verify the bulletin’s statements about Card’s history.
Vehicle being sought after shooting is found in Lisbon, Maine
A vehicle that was sought after the shooting incidents in Lewiston was found in the town of Lisbon a short distance away, the state public safety commissioner said.
The hunt for the gunman is ongoing. A “person of interest” has been identified in the shooting, but he has not been called a suspect.
A shelter-in-place order remained for Lewiston and now is also in place for Lisbon, which is around 7 miles southeast of Lewiston, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said.
Patrons at a bar and grill were likely playing cornhole when gunfire erupted on what should've been a quiet Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine said.
"It's such a sad night," Pingree told "The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle." "Our hearts are broken for everybody who thought they were going out bowling, thought they were going out to dinner."
Despite Maine's high gun ownership rate, this kind of bloodshed is virtually unprecedented in America's most northeastern state, according to Pingree.
"We're just not used to these kinds of things in Maine," she said.
Maine Medical Center prepares for 'potential patient transports'
Maine Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center, created critical care and operating room capacity as it prepares to take in patients who were shot in Lewiston, the hospital said in a statement.
"Out of an abundance of caution and due 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," the hospital said.
"MaineHealth and Maine Medical Center express their deepest sympathies to those impacted by this tragedy," it added.
Lewiston police name person of interest in shootings
The Lewiston Police Department named Robert Card, 40, as a "person of interest" in the shootings at a bar and a bowling alley tonight.
Card "should be considered armed and dangerous. Please contact law enforcement if you are aware of his whereabouts," the police department said on Facebook.
Biden pledges full federal support after shooting in Lewiston
Biden called Gov. Janet Mills and members of Congress about the shooting in Lewiston, a senior White House official said.
Biden called Mills, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden and offered full federal support in the wake of "this horrific attack," the official said.
Waiting outside hospital for word about loved ones
A woman outside Central Maine Medical Center was among those waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones after the mass shooting in Lewiston.
“My ex-husband and my son were playing pool at Schemengees,” the woman told NBC affiliate WCSH. She then learned about the shooting on social media but has learned very little since.
She and others went to the hospital. “We’re all waiting, and we’ve heard nothing,” she said.
'We have everybody on board right now,' mayor of adjacent Auburn says
The mayor of Auburn, Maine, tonight urged people in his city, Lewiston and the surrounding region to shelter in place and assured them that "we will get this situation settled."
"We have everybody on board right now, from state, local and federal officials working on this," Mayor Jason Levesque said on NBC News Now in a phone interview.
The violence in Lewiston is "completely unusual" for Maine and the area, he said. The two cities — Auburn, with a population of around 26,000, and Lewiston, around 35,000 — are separated by a river, Levesque said.
“I can’t go to the grocery store without running into someone who's complaining about a pothole,” Levesque said.
“It may seem insignificant at this point in time when we’re talking about this situation, but that’s how close this community is,” he said.
Police are said to believe they know identity of shooting suspect
Police believe they know who the shooting suspect is, NBC News chief justice contributor Jonathan Dienst said on-air.
"They believe they have him identified, and they are actively seeking him and the vehicle they believe he’s driving,” Dienst said in an NBC News special report about the shooting.
“They have a pretty good idea who this suspect is,” Dienst said. a source said the person may have a criminal history, he said.
"But as per motive, there is no indication as to why this shooting has taken place," Dienst said.
Bulletins and briefings to various law enforcement agencies have had different numbers of deaths, he said.
U.S. attorney general is briefed and monitoring
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed and is following developments, a Justice Department spokesperson said.
“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,” spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said.
Bates College on lockdown
Bates College, a liberal arts school in Lewiston, is on lockdown right now, according to campus spokeswoman Mary Pols.
She said there have been no reports of gunshots on campus.
Lewiston public schools closed tomorrow
Public schools in Lewiston will be closed tomorrow, the district's superintendent announced.
"There remains a lot of unknowns at this time. Information moves quickly but not alway accurately," Jake Langlais, the superintendent, said in a message on the district's website. "Please continue to shelter in place or get to safety. We will continue to update you with information and next steps as appropriate."
"Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them. Our prayers go out to those who lost someone tonight," he added.
Number of dead is almost or more than total homicides in state most years
The believed death toll of 22 in tonight’s shooting is almost or more than the annual number of homicides in all of Maine.
Recent earlier years had similar numbers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of around the high teens to the low 20s.
Law enforcement trying to ‘eliminate the active killer or killers’, former ATF agent says
"This is a very active and dynamic situation. The image of at least one active killer has been released by police. He is armed with a tactical rifle," NBC News law enforcement contributor Jim Cavanaugh, a former special agent in the ATF, said in a text message.
"Law Enforcement is now swarming the area attempting to locate, isolate and eliminate the active killer or killers," he said.
22 dead, dozens wounded in shootings
At least 22 people were killed in the shootings, according to a Lewiston police source.
Fifty to 60 people were wounded after a man fired at several locations, including a Lewiston bowling alley, said four law enforcement officials briefed on the matter.
The officials said the numbers were preliminary and could change.
There were no initial signs of terrorism.
Biden briefed on Maine active shooter incident
President Joe Biden has been briefed on what’s known so far about the active shooting incident in Lewiston, Maine, and "will continue to receive updates," a senior White House official said.
He received an initial briefing earlier this evening. He’s currently at the State Dinner with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Police release image of vehicle
Police in Lewiston released a photo of a vehicle they are looking for in the shooting investigation.
Maine senator says he's 'deeply sad,' urges residents to stay indoors
Sen. Angus King of Maine, a political independent who was previously the state's governor, reacted on X:
Woman told to leave nearby building: ‘We’re cold, we’re worried’
A woman evacuated from a nearby building in Lewiston described “police with long guns running around” at an industrial park where Sparetime Recreation is located.
Mary Ellen Davis said in a phone interview with NBC affiliate WCSH of Portland said that everyone she is with is fine.
"We’re cold, we’re worried,” she said.
Police evacuated her and others from building in the area, she told the station.
ATF Boston agents responding
Agents with the Boston branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responding to the active shooter event, the field office said on X.
Central Maine Medical Center responding to 'mass casualty' event
Central Maine Medical Center, a health care complex in Lewiston, said it was "reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event."
The medical center said it had "no specifics to share on the number of casualties."
Lewiston police report active shooter incident, identify 2 places
Lewiston police said on social media that they were dealing with an active shooter and identified two businesses.
"We are currently dealing with an active shooter incident (Schemengees and Sparetime Recreation). Please stay off the roads to allow emergency responders access to the hospitals," police said on Facebook.
NBC affiliate WCSH of Portland, citing a police official, also reported those locations.
Schemengees appears to be a bar and restaurant, and Sparetime Recreation appears to be a bowling center, according to their websites.
City says 'stay inside with doors locked,' identifies 3 locations police are investigating
The city of Lewiston issued a shelter-in-place order and identified three areas where police were investigating.
"The target of the manhunt is reportedly connected with shootings that occurred in on Goddard Road, Mollison Way and 500 block of Lincoln Street. Officials say the suspect may be armed," the city government said in a statement.
The city said people should “stay inside with doors locked” and not approach unfamiliar people.
City of Auburn also tells people to shelter in place
The city of Auburn, which is adjacent to Lewiston, said there is an active shooter incident in Lewiston and told people there to shelter in place.
“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,” Auburn said on social media.
Gov. Janet Mills says she has been briefed on shooting
Authorities release photo of man with rifle
The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released photos of a man with a rifle and said it was "investigating two active shooter events."
Law enforcement in Maine warns of active shooter, tells people to shelter
Maine State Police said tonight they were investigating an "active shooter" in Lewiston and urged people to shelter in place.
State police and the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office alerted people on social media shortly after 8 p.m.
Further details were not immediately available.