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"At least 16 dead in Maine shooting: Police hunt 'person of interest' as residents shelter"

At least 16 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a shooting at a bar and bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. The suspect, Robert Card, was identified as a person of interest and had previously been committed to a mental health facility. Residents were ordered to shelter in place as authorities searched for Card.

A tragic incident unfolded in Lewiston, Maine, as a man opened fire at a bar and a bowling alley, resulting in the deaths of at least 16 people and leaving numerous others injured. The second-largest city in the state was thrown into chaos as law enforcement authorities launched a massive search for a person of interest, while residents were ordered to seek shelter.

According to a police intelligence bulletin, the person of interest was identified as Robert Card, who had received firearms training at a U.S. Army Reserve training facility in Maine. The document revealed that Card had been committed to a mental health facility for a two-week period in the summer of 2023. However, it did not provide specific details about his treatment or condition. The bulletin also mentioned that Card had previously made threats to carry out a shooting at a military training base in Saco, Maine, and had reported hearing voices. Attempts to contact Card through a listed telephone number were unsuccessful.

The incident began at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley located about 4 miles away from each other. The Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office released two photos of the suspect, showing them entering an establishment with a raised weapon. The shooting reportedly started shortly before 7 p.m.

While the exact number of casualties remained uncertain, two law enforcement officials confirmed that at least 16 people had been killed, with the possibility of the toll rising. Michael Sauschuck, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety, refrained from providing a specific estimate during a news conference, citing the ongoing nature of the situation. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also revealed that dozens of individuals had been wounded.

Central Maine Medical Center, on its website, acknowledged the occurrence of a mass casualty, mass shooter event and stated that they were coordinating with other hospitals in the area to accommodate patients. The hospital was placed on lockdown, with armed police officers stationed at the entrances. Hospitals in Portland, located approximately 35 miles away, were also prepared to receive potential victims.

In response to the situation, authorities issued a shelter-in-place order, urging residents and business owners to remain indoors and off the streets. This order was later extended to the nearby town of Lisbon, following the discovery of a "vehicle of interest." Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, recounted how her staff promptly secured the doors and ensured the safety of their customers and employees upon hearing about the shooting at the bowling alley. Law enforcement officers subsequently escorted everyone out of the building. Small expressed her shock and relief that everyone in her establishment was unharmed, but also conveyed her heartbreak for the community.

The governor of Maine, Janet Mills, released a statement reiterating the instructions to stay indoors and emphasizing her close communication with public safety officials. President Joe Biden also reached out to Mills, as well as the state's Senate and House members, offering federal support in the aftermath of the attack.

Local schools in the area will be closed on Thursday, and Superintendent Jake Langlais urged people to seek safety and stay close to their loved ones. The death toll from the incident is particularly devastating for a state that had only recorded 29 homicides throughout the entirety of 2022.

Lewiston has experienced significant demographic changes due to African immigration, particularly from the Somali population, which numbers in the thousands. This influx has transformed the once predominantly white mill city into one of the most diverse communities in northern New England.

Maine Senator Angus King expressed his sadness for the city of Lewiston and assured that he was closely monitoring the situation. He planned to return to Maine as soon as possible.

Contributions to this report were made by Associated Press journalists Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, Michael Balsamo in New York, Darlene Superville in Washington, Michael Casey in Boston, and Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire.

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