What we know about the Maine mass shooting: A children’s party, an Army Reservist and 18 dead

A woman is hugged by a man at a reunification centre at Auburn Middle School (AP)
A woman is hugged by a man at a reunification centre at Auburn Middle School (AP)

Children were playing games at a party in a bowling alley.

Locals were drinking and dining at a restaurant.

It was by all accounts a normal Wednesday night – until it was rocked by the latest horrific act of gun violence in America.

A gunman entered two locations in the town of Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night and opened fire, killing 18 people and injuring 13 others.

Now, a manhunt is underway to catch Robert Card – the “armed and dangerous” suspect wanted in connection to the shootings.

Residents across Maine are hunkering down in their homes and businesses as the search continues for the US Army Reserve firearms instructor who had allegedly threatened to shoot up a National Guard post and had recently complained about hearing voices.

Here’s what we know so far:

The shooting

The horror shootings unfolded at around 6.56pm on Wednesday night when a gunman stormed two locations in Lewiston and opened fire on people inside.

The first location targeted was Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley popular among families and children.

Lewiston city councilor Robert McCarthy said that there was a children’s party going on there at the time.

The second shooting took place around four miles away at the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant – a large restaurant complete with 10 pool tables and TVs to play major sports events – with multiple 911 calls coming in at around 7.08pm.

Scene of the shooting (EPA)
Scene of the shooting (EPA)

The restaurant had posted on Facebook that it was hosting an “industry night” that night.

“INDUSTRY NIGHT TONIGHT!! You work in the bar/restaurant industry? You get 25% your bill !!!!” it said.

Police received reports of shooting incidents and responded to find multiple casualties.

In total, 18 people were killed while another 13 were injured in the attacks, Maine Governor Janet Mills confirmed in a press conference on Thursday.

Among the victims, seven people including one female and six males were found dead from gunshot wounds at the bowling alley.

Seven males were killed inside the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant and one male was killed outside.

Three other victims died after they were taken to a local hospital.

The conditions of those injured remains unclear.

Ms Mill said that Maine is “one of the safest states in the nation” as she vowed to hold the person responsible accountable.

“I hold these families and this city in my heart,” she said.

“I wish I could take that pain off your hearts, off your shoulers but I promise you this – we will all help you carry that grief.”

Officer in tactical gear on the scene (EPA)
Officer in tactical gear on the scene (EPA)

A city councillor had previously told CNN that 22 people were thought to have been killed and up to 60 others injured.

Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck refused to give a specific number of fatalities on Wednesday night, saying: “This is a very fluid situation. I don’t have firm numbers and when I do, I will be happy to share with you... I don’t think it’s helpful.”

Initial reports had also suggested that there may have been a shooting in a third location at a Walmart Distribution Centre but this later turned out to be incorrect.

Walmart released a statement late on Wednesday saying: “There was no shooting on Walmart’s property. The distribution center was locked down and police searched the facility. They did not find anything and no one was hurt.”

The manhunt

An intensive manhunt is now under way for Robert Card, who has now been named as a suspect in the shootings.

Police identified Mr Card as a person of interest after posting terrifying surveillance footage grabs on Facebook of the shooter entering the bowling alley armed with a rifle.

Lewiston police also shared a photo of a white SUV wanted in connection to the shooting and asked the public to contact authorities if they saw it.

At around 11.30pm, police confirmed that Mr Card’s car had been found in Lisbon – around eight miles from Lewiston – but that he remained missing.

In Thursday’s press conference, police confirmed that the vehicle had been found close to a boat landing point in Lisbon.

This handout image released on 25 October 2023 by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office (Androscoggin County Sheriff's Of)
This handout image released on 25 October 2023 by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office (Androscoggin County Sheriff's Of)

It is not clear where Mr Card went next.

Residents in Auburn, Lewiston and Lisbon are all being urged to shelter in place and businesses told to shutter as the manhunt continues.

Bowdoin – where Mr Card lives – was also placed under a shelter in place order on Thursday morning.

Mr Card has been described as “armed and dangerous” and members of the public have been warned not to approach him if they see him.

Due to Mr Card’s experience as a certified firearms instructor, he is well-trained in the use of firearms.

On Thursday evening – around 24 hours after the incidents first occurred – a major search was carried out by the FBI at a property belonging to Mr Card in nearby Bowdoin.

A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson previously told CNN that law enforcement was “not positive” Mr Card was in the house and that police were doing their “due diligence.”

On Thursday afternoon local time multiple police vehicles were seen in the vicinity of Card’s home in the vicinity of Bowdoin, with CNN reporting a series of loud bangs.

There was speculation that the noise could have been flash bangs used by police in stand-offs with armed suspects. Shortly after, a video emerged of law enforcement outside a property with a loudhailer heard to announce: “FBI! Open the door!”

Around 8.45pm local time tactical police vehicles were pictured moving in convoy away from the property.

The gunman

Just hours after the shootings, Robert Card was named as a person of interest by police.

On Thursday morning, officials confirmed that he was now a suspect in the killings and that a warrant was out for his arrest on eight counts of murder (as 10 victims are yet to be identified).

Mr Card, 40, is a US Army Reservist and a certified firearms instructor, meaning he is well-trained in the use of firearms.

The US Army confirmed that he joined in 2002 and has had no combat deployments. He is currently a Sgt 1st class and Petroleum Supply Specialist.

Law enforcement officials said that Mr Card had recently made threats to carry out a shooting at a National Guard facility in Saco and had reported mental health issues including hearing voices.

A person of interest identified by police as Robert Card is seen in this handout image (Reuters)
A person of interest identified by police as Robert Card is seen in this handout image (Reuters)

He spent two weeks in a mental health facility this summer.

Mr Card’s family members have revealed their shock, with the 40-year-old’s sister-in-law telling The Daily Beast that they are “shaken” by the news.

“I am with police right now and my children [are] terrified and shaken, so I do not have a comment on anything right now,” she said.

The victims

Only a handful of people involved in the attacks have been identified – among them, a 10-year-old girl.

Zoey Levesque was attending practice with her youth league at Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley. One of the bullets grazed the little girl as she and her mother Meghan Hutchinson ran for cover and desperately barricaded themselves in a back room.

Speaking ABC News on Thursday, Ms Hutchinson recalled another child in the room bleeding heavily from a bullet wound in his arm. Police officers later arrived and freed them from the building.

Another man, named as Brandon, revealed how he hid down a bowling alley lane in a desperate bid to escape the gunman.

he told The Associated Press that he had initially mistaken the noise of gunshots for balloons popping, before he saw Card brandishing his weapon inside the alley. Fearing for his safety, he said he ran down the lane and slid into the machinery.

“And as soon as I turned and saw it was not a balloon, he was holding a weapon, I just booked it down the lane and I slid basically in where the pins are and climbed on the machine,” he said.

Brandon said he heard around 10 gunshots ring out and that the shooter came within around 15 feet of him. The gunman appeared not to see him in his hiding place and he stayed there until police arrived minutes later.

Others were not so fortunate.

Bob Violette, a 76-year-old retired Sears mechanic and an avid bowler was identified as one of the victims who was killed by his daughter-in-law Cassandra.

Mr Violette, who started the youth bowling league with his wife Lucy, was reportedly killed trying to protect the children he was responsible for.

“He wouldn’t let you walk out the door without giving him a hug, and a kiss on the check. He was just there for everything,” Cassandra told The Portland Press Herald.

She said he had a special bond with his grandkids and was a doting husband to his wife Lucy, who was injured in the shooting. However, her condition is unknown. “His first thought every day was her,” she added.

Also at the bowling alley was was 53-year-old Tricia Asselin, worked part time at Just-In-Time Recreation. Her brother DJ Johnson told CNN that she had run to the counter in an attempt to call 911 before she was killed.

“That was just her. She wasn’t going to run (away). She was going to try and help,” he said, adding that his sister was “a hero”.

CNN also reported that 34-year-old Tommy Conrad, who worked as a bowling alley manager, was killed in the attack. Mr Conrad leaves behind a nine-year-old daughter.

Another confirmed victim was Bryan MacFarlane. Mr McFarlane was one of the participants in a deaf cornhole tournament that was happening in Schemengees Bar & Grille when the second shooting incident occurred.

His sister told CNN that Mr McFarlane usually went to the bar on Wednesdays for a weekly cornhole sessions and to hang out with his friends.

He was one of the first people in the state of Maine to get his commercial trucking license. He worked as a truck driver, loved riding his motorcycle and playing with his dog, his sister said.

Joseph Walker, the bar manager at Schemengees, was also identified as having died by his dather Leroy Walker.

The Maine AFL-CIO – a state federation of over 160 local labor unions – later announced that one of its members, Peyton Brewer Ross was among those killed.

Mr Ross was a new father and “loved by his community” the federation wrote on X, sharing a picture of Mr Ross smiling and holding a young child. Mr Ross was a member of the Machinists Local S6 union.