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At least 16 killed, hundreds of cops scour Maine for man wanted in US mass shootings

Hundreds ofpolicefanned out across the state ofMainehuntingforamanwantedinconnection withmassshootingsat a bar and a bowling alleyinthe town ofLewiston, as news outlets reported a death toll ranging from 16 to 22, with dozens more wounded.

Officials said there were multiple casualtiesintheshootingson Wednesday but declined to provide figures.

State and localpoliceidentified Robert R Card, 40, who reportedly had been committed to a mental health facility over the summer, as a person of interestinthe case. Earlier, they posted on Facebook photographs of a beardedmanina brown hoodie and jeans at one of the crime scenes, holding what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifleinthe firing position.

“We have literally hundreds ofpoliceofficers working around the state ofMaineto investigate this case to locate Mr. Card, who is a person of interest,”MainePublic Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck told a news conference.

Policefound a white SUV they believe Card drove to the town of Lisbon, about 7 miles (11 km) to the southeast, and Sauschuck said people were asked to remain indoorsinbothLewistonand Lisbon.

Several media reported that aMainelaw enforcement bulletin identified Card as a trained firearms instructor and member of the US Army reserve who recently reported that he had mental health issues, including hearing voices. It also said he threatened toshootup a National Guard base.

“Card was also reported to have been committed to mental health facilityfortwo weeks during summer 2023 and subsequently released,” said the notice from theMaineInformation & Analysis Center.

Reuters could not authenticate the bulletin. The Associated Press reported it was circulated to law enforcement officials.

The army did not immediately respond to requestsforinformation about Card, including details on his service record.

The bloodshed rocked the largely rural state ofMaineinthe northeastern corner of the US bordering Canada.

Policesaid gunfire first broke out shortly before 7 pm local time. The bar and the bowling alley are about four miles (6.5 km) apart.

Lewistonis a former textile hub and town of 38,000 peopleinAndroscoggin County about 35 miles (56 km) north ofMaine’s largest city, Portland.

“A recreation center. A bowling alley. A neighborhood bar. Places Americans frequent and should feel safe… these are the crime scenes of multipleshootingstonightinMaine,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady, a gun safety advocacy group,ina statement.

Mainelacks several major types of gun safety laws, including assault weapons regulation, universal background checks, and “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement to temporarily disarm people legally deemed dangerous, according to Brady.

At a reunification centerinLewiston’s “sister city” Auburn, just across the Androscoggin River, some families were discovering that relatives who had been at the bar and bowling alley had been killedintheshooting, Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque told reporters.

Officials were interviewing witnesses of theshooting”of all ages” at an undisclosed safe location on Wednesday night, Levesque said.

President Joe Biden was been briefed and will continue to receive updates, a US official saidinWashington.

The president spoke by phone individually toMaineGovernor Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and Congressman Jared Golden about theshootinginLewistonand offered full federal supportinthe wake of the attack, the White House said.

The range of estimated fatalities would be on par with the number of homicides that normally occurinMaineinany given year. The number of annual homicidesinthe state has fluctuated between 16 and 29 since 2012, according toMaineStatePolice.

The number of USshootingsinwhich four or more people were shot has surged since the Covid-19 pandemic beganin2020, with 647 occurringin2022 and 679 projected to occurin2023, based on trends as of July, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

The deadliest modern USmassshootingon record is the massacre of 58 people by a gunman firing on a Las Vegas country music festival from a high-rise hotel perchin2017.

(Published 26 October 2023, 07:43 IST)

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