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Manhunt continues for 'person of interest' in deadly Maine shootings

An armed police officer guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, early on Oct. 26, 2023. A massive manhunt was under way for 40-year-old Robert Card, who officials identified as a person of interest.
Joseph Prezioso
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AFP via Getty Images
An armed police officer guards the ambulance entrance to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, early on Oct. 26, 2023. A massive manhunt was under way for 40-year-old Robert Card, who officials identified as a person of interest.

Updated October 26, 2023 at 6:30 AM ET

For the latest updates on this story, follow NPR's digital live coverage.

A manhunt is underway for a man who is considered a "person of interest" following two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, that left "multiple casualites," officials said Wednesday night.

Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said during a Wednesday night news conference that 40-year-old Robert Card of Bowdoin, Maine, should be considered armed and dangerous, and that his car had been found in the nearby town of Lisbon.

Sauschuck said there have been multiple casualties, but declined to give a number of those killed and injured, saying the numbers "are all over the map." Sauschuck said the shootings began at 6:56 p.m. ET.

In a Facebook post, the Lewiston Police Department released what appeared to be a driver's license picture of Card. He appears to be the same person shown in surveillance images wearing a brown sweatshirt and carrying an AR-style long gun as he entered a bowling alley in an earlier photo release by authorities.

The department said members of the public should contact law enforcement if they have more information about his whereabouts.

This photo released by the Lewiston Maine Police Department shows Robert Card, who police have identified as a person of interest in connection to mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.
/ Lewiston Maine Police Department via AP
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Lewiston Maine Police Department via AP
This photo released by the Lewiston Maine Police Department shows Robert Card, who police have identified as a person of interest in connection to mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

A shelter-in-place order remains in place for Androscoggin County, Maine, as authorities search for the suspect in Wednesday's shootings. Previously, the police had instructed people to stay inside with doors locked, citing a "manhunt in the area."

The Maine State Police also expanded their shelter-in-place advisory and school closings to the town of Bowdoin on Thursday morning, according to a Facebook post.

The Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston said it had been responding to a "mass casualty, mass shooter event," and is coordinating with area hospitals to take in patients.

Lewiston police say the target of the manhunt is connected to shootings in at least two locations — including Schemengees Bar and Grille, and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley. It is unclear which location was attacked first. It is also not known how many shots were fired in each place.

Schemengees Bar and Grille posted on their Facebook page: "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."

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said in a statement, "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."

The police department has asked people to stay off the roads to give emergency responders easier access to hospitals. Sauschuck said there are hundreds of police officers working around the state of Maine.

Maine Medical Center, the hospital system in Portland, has alerted on-call staff and created critical care and operating room capacity in anticipation of potential patient transports.

In an emailed statement to local media, the organization continued, "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. 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."

In a Facebook post, the city of Lewiston said that all municipal buildings there will be closed Thursday. The post said, "This includes City Hall, 27 Pine Street, Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon Street, and the Armory, 65 Central Avenue. Programs, events or early voting at City Hall have been cancelled for tomorrow. Non-emergency personnel should stay at home tomorrow too."

The superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools says all classes will be canceled tomorrow.

In a statement on the school system's web page, Superintendent Jake Langlais said, in part, "There remains a lot of unknowns at this time. Information moves quickly but not always accurately. Please continue to shelter in place or get to safety."

The White House said President Biden has been briefed on the shooting, and has spoken to a variety of government officials in Maine, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and Rep. Jared Golden. Biden has offered "full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack," according to the statement.

In addition, 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."

Lewiston is the second-largest city in Maine, with a population of about 40,000 people, and is about 40 miles from Portland. Lewiston is a former mill town that has had economic challenges over the years. The city has a diverse population, with many immigrants from Somalia, as well as a sizable population of French Canadians.

In 2022, there were a total of 29 homicides in all of Maine, with 15 of those domestic cases.

A law enforcement news briefing is expected at 10:30 a.m. ET at Lewiston City Hall.

For the latest updates on this story, follow NPR's digital live coverage.

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This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from law enforcement officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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NPR Staff