A vast manhunt was still underway on Thursday night for a US Army reservist who killed 18 people and wounded 13 in a shooting at a bowling alley and bar that sent panicked patrons scrambling under tables.
Schools and shops were closed and residents stayed behind locked doors in cities up to 50 miles from the scene of the shootings in Lewiston, Maine.
President Joe Biden ordered all US flags to be flown at half-mast as condolences poured in from around the nation, including from Maine native and author Stephen King, who called it “madness”. The attacks stunned a state of only 1.3 million people that has one of the country’s lowest murder rates: just 29 killings in all of 2022.
The suspect, Robert Card, is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached, authorities said at a news conference. Card underwent a mental health evaluation in mid-July after he began acting erratically during training.
Police said they had had no reported sightings of Card since the shootings at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley about four miles away. Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released two photos of the suspect walking into the bowling alley with his rifle raised to his shoulder.
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, said Maine State Police Colonel William Ross.
Card’s sister-in-law said he had begun wearing hearing aids and was convinced he could hear people talking about him. “He truly believed he was hearing people say things,” she told The Daily Beast. “This all just happened within the last few months.”
It is the 565th mass shooting to rock the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a mass shooting as any time four or more people are shot or killed, not including the perpetrator.
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.
Stephen King tweeted: “It’s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing apologists for murder.”
Associated Press contributed to this report