At least 22 people were killed by a shooter in the city of Lewiston, the second most populous in the state of Maine, with around 38 thousand people (about 800 km northeast of Washington), on Wednesday night (25), according to municipal police sources told local media outlets.
The total number of deaths and how many are injured is still unclear. Public communications from the police and authorities in the region speak of “multiple incidents” attended, which began at 6:56 pm local time.
According to local police, security forces were dealing with an incident at a restaurant and a bowling alley. Police in Androscoggin County, where Lewiston is located, published a photo of a white man holding what appears to be a long-range rifle, not uncommon in recent massacres in the United States.
Lewiston police published an image of the suspect, Robert Card, 40, according to local law enforcement. He is still at large, and there is still no information about the motivation for the attack.
Security forces also claim that the vehicle used by the shooter was identified by police and located in the city of Lisbon, near Lewiston, and have recommended that city residents stay home and contact police if they see the man or have clues as to his identity. whereabouts.
At a press conference, the state’s public safety commissioner, Michael Sauschuck, avoided questions about the total number of deaths and did not confirm the number of 22 reported by law enforcement sources. He stated that the situation, until the early hours of this Thursday (25), was “fluid”.
Central Maine Medical Center said its staff was “responding to a mass shooter episode with multiple casualties” and was in contact and coordinating with other area hospitals to receive patients.
According to CNN, citing local police sources, 50 to 60 people were injured in the incidents, although it is not yet clear how many of them were hit by gunfire. “Please avoid roads to allow first responders access to hospitals,” police said.
Justin Juray, owner of the bowling alley where authorities say the attack occurred, says there were about 100 to 150 people, including 20 children, at the bowling alley at the time the attacker entered shooting with a rifle.
Dozens of students take shelter on the top floor of the library at Bates College, a local private college, keeping low among the bookshelves as they look for updates on the case on social media.
US President Joe Biden was briefed on the case, called the state’s Democratic governor, Janet Mills, and offered “full federal assistance” to deal with the attack, according to the White House.
“I am aware of and have been briefed on the situation in Lewiston. I urge all people in the area to follow the instructions of state and local authorities. I will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with those responsible for public safety,” the governor said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has been informed about the attack and officials from the FBI are in Maine assisting local authorities.
The population of the small state of Maine is not used to seeing many homicides. According to data from the CDC, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state recorded a homicide rate of 1.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021, which made Maine the third lowest rate among the 50 states.
With 22 deaths, today’s episode already adds more deaths than in the entire year 2021 (20) and the total number of deaths recorded in 2020 (21).
The attack is also the deadliest in the United States since at least August 2019, when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 23 people. The episode was classified as a hate crime against Hispanics, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
The United States has been experiencing sniper attacks with multiple deaths in recent years, something that has instigated discussions about access to weapons in the country and changes in the approach strategy of police forces.
Cases such as the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022, which left 19 children and 2 adults, sparked outrage among advocates of greater gun control. At the time, Biden asked at a press conference when the country would “confront the gun lobby”.
Furthermore, a subsequent report on police actions pointed out “systemic errors” in the approach and lack of adequate leadership, which contributed to the high number of deaths.
With Reuters and The New York Times