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Maine shooting: First victims named as hunt for gunman continued

Maine shooting: First victims named as hunt for gunman continued

The first victims killed in a mass shooting at a bowling alley and bar in the US state of Maine were named by their families as authorities continued to search for the suspected gunman.

At least 18 people died and 13 were wounded in the attack on Wednesday night at Schemengees Bar and Grille and at Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston, a bowling alley about four miles away.

US authorities believe army reservist Robert Card is behind the shootings. Authorities searched forests, waterways and small towns on Thursday as the hunt for him intensified.Bowling instructor Bob Violette, aged 76, was among the casualties, his daughter told local media. He was reportedly teaching children at the bowling alley at the time of the shooting. He had helped the youth league "for as long as I can remember", his co-worker Brandon Dubuc said.

"There wasn't a kid that he wouldn't help. He was just always a warm presence," he said.

Tricia Asselin, 53, was trying to call 911 when the gunman shot and killed her at the bowling alley, her brother DJ Johnson told CNN.

Ms Asselin, who worked at the bowling alley part-time, was there for a night out with her sister, who survived the massacre, Johnson said.

Tricia Asselin and Bob Violette
Tricia Asselin and Bob Violette

Bar manager Joseph Walker was working at Schemengee's when gunfire broke out and he was shot and killed, his father Leroy told NBC Boston. Joseph was said to have died a hero going after the gunman with a butcher's knife.

Joseph was a "great, great son" and a "loving husband" who had two grandchildren and a stepson, he said.

Meanwhile Michael Deslauriers was bowling with family and friends at Sparetime Recreation when he was killed, his father has told media.

According to Michael Deslauriers Sr, his son and a friend made sure their wives and several children were safe before charging at the shooter. He said both men were killed.

Bill Young and his 14-year-old son Aaron were also shot and killed at the bowling alley, Bill's brother Rob Young told Reuters. They were out for an evening with their bowling league.

Police have not released the names of the people killed on Wednesday night. Seven died at the bowling alley, while eight others were killed at nearby Schemengees Bar & Grille restaurant, police said. Three more people died at local hospitals.

The Schemengees Bar and Grille (Getty Images)
The Schemengees Bar and Grille (Getty Images)

Schools, doctor's offices and supermarkets closed and people stayed behind locked door in cities as far away as 50 miles from Lewiston.President Joe Biden ordered all US flags to be flown at half-staff as condolences poured in from around the nation and at home, including from Maine native and author Stephen King, who called it "madness." The Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office released two photos of the suspect walking into the bowling alley with a rifle raised to his shoulder.

Card underwent a mental health evaluation in mid-July after he began acting erratically during training, a US official told AP.

Robert Card (Androscoggin County Sheriff's Of)
Robert Card (Androscoggin County Sheriff's Of)

Maine Governor Janet Mills promised to do whatever was needed to find Card and to "hold whoever is responsible for this atrocity accountable ... and to seek full justice for the victims and their families."

"We are not, and we will not, rest in this endeavor," she said.

Eight murder warrants were issued for Card, 40, after authorities identified eight of the victims, police said. Ten more will likely be issued once the names of the rest of the dead are confirmed.

Three of the 13 people wounded in the shootings were in critical condition and five were taken to hospital but in a stable condition, health officials said.The attack started at Sparetime, where a children's bowling league was taking place, just before 7pm on Wednesday local time.

Less than 15 minutes after the shooting began, numerous 911 calls started coming in from Schemengees, which was offering 25 per cent discounts to customers who work in the bar or restaurant industry.Authorities launched a multistate search for Card on land and water. The Coast Guard sent out a patrol boat along the Kennebec River but found nothing.

Card's car had been discovered by a boat launch near the Androscoggin River and Card's 15-foot boat remains unaccounted for. There is no evidence that Card escaped by boat, authorities said. The Canada Border Services Agency issued an "armed and dangerous" alert to its officers stationed along the Canada-US border.A bulletin sent to police across the country after the attack said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this past summer after "hearing voices and threats to shoot up" a military base.A US official said Card was training with the Army Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment in New York when commanders became concerned about him.State police took Card to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for evaluation, according to the official, who spoke to AP anonymously.

Law enforcement officers outside Lewiston High School (AFP via Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers outside Lewiston High School (AFP via Getty Images)

Immediately after the shooting, police armed with rifles took positions around Lewiston, Maine's second largest city, with a population of 37,000. Schools 50 miles away in the town of Kennebunk closed as the search continued. Maine's largest city, Portland, closed its public buildings.In Bates College in Lewiston, students stayed in dorms with the blinds closed.

The shootings mark the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by AP and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.Maine doesn't require permits to carry guns, and the state has a longstanding culture of gun ownership that is tied to its traditions of hunting and sport shooting.