Maine State Police have asked residents to “shelter in place” after an attacker in Lewiston killed 18 people and is still at large.
Maine is one of 20 states in the United States that does not require permits to carry guns. Since Wednesday’s attack, activists are calling for stronger measures to prevent gun violence in the state.
An arrest warrant has been issued for suspect Robert Card. Several US law enforcement agencies are investigating a case that they say is in its “early stages”. Here is what we know so far:
How many people were killed?
Eighteen people have been killed and 13 are injured, officials told reporters at a press conference held at Lewiston City Hall on Thursday. Three of the victims died after being transported to medical centres.
What happened and when?
The shooting began at 6:56pm (22:56 GMT) on Wednesday with people of various ages seen fleeing the crime scenes, according to officials and witnesses.About 7pm (23:00 GMT), the shooting locations were identified as Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley on Mollison Way in Lewiston, and Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street in Lewiston. Police received multiple calls on the 911 emergency number at about this time.At 8pm (00:00 GMT), the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook that officials were investigating an active shooter situation. This post was accompanied by photos of the suspect with a rifle and a call for businesses to lock down.Officials began asking people in Lewiston and neighbouring Auburn to take shelter. Schools, businesses, roads and offices in higher-risk areas of Maine were ordered to close.At 9:17pm (01:17 GMT on Thursday), Lewiston police released an image of the suspect’s SUV found in Lisbon about 8 miles (13km) away from Lewiston along state highway 196. Later, some roads in Lewiston were reportedly closed while police helicopters were seen circling over Lisbon.So far, eight of the victims have been identified, and police have issued an arrest warrant for Card on eight counts of murder. Police are working to identify the other 10.
Where did the shooting happen?
The shooting occurred in Lewiston, the second largest city in Maine, halfway between the state capital, Augusta, and its largest city, Portland. Lewiston is in Androscoggin County.Maine is the most northeastern state in the United States. It borders the state of New Hampshire and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick.
Who is the suspect?
Forty-year-old Card from Bowdoin, Maine, has been identified as a suspect. Police have labelled him “armed and dangerous”, telling Maine residents to not approach or make contact with him and to inform law enforcement if they know his whereabouts.A certified firearms instructor and member of the US Army Reserve, Card recently made threats that he would carry out a shooting at a National Guard facility in Saco, Maine.An official told The Associated Press news agency that military commanders became “concerned” about Card in mid-July after he started “acting erratically” while training at a military academy in New York. Police were called and took Card to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, New York for evaluation.The suspect’s relatives told CNN said that they are urging Card to turn himself in and that his mental health issues were an “acute episode”, rather than a “lifetime” of struggles.During two news briefings, Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said law enforcement authorities could not address questions about Card’s background and mental health yet.
Is Lewiston safe now?
The situation is considered “fluid” while the manhunt is under way.The suspect’s vehicle was abandoned at a boat launch on the Androscoggin River with the bumper painted black. Officials are not sure whether Card escaped into the woods or dumped the car and caught a boat, sources told CNN. Reports indicated that Card had rented a jet ski in June.An advisory to remain indoors is in place for Lewiston, Auburn and Bowdoin. Municipal offices, libraries, businesses and schools in some areas remain closed.
What are people saying about the Maine shooting?
US President Joe Biden called Maine political leaders to offer his support, according to the White House press office.Maine Governor Janet Mills expressed her grief at a press briefing on Thursday and said she was monitoring the situation with the help of public safety officials.Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline was quoted by ABC News as saying: “I am heartbroken for our city and our people. Lewiston is known for our strength and grit, and we will need both in the days to come.”Both shooting locations expressed pain over the incident on their Facebook pages. Sparetime Recreation, recently renamed to Just-In-Time Recreation, said it had “lost some amazing and whole-hearted people” from its “bowling family and community”.
What is happening next?
According to officials, law enforcement agencies and hundreds of officers are still investigating the incident.Various US agencies, including the FBI’s Boston division and the US Department of Homeland Security, have extended their support to Maine officials for the investigation and “victim assistance”.Officers are also stationed along the Canada-US border to be on the lookout for Card.Mills and Biden have ordered all US and state flags to be lowered to half-staff immediately for the next five days in honour of the injured and “in memory of those lost”.Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies