In this image taken from video released by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, an unidentified gunman points a gun while entering Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. / AP
At least 22 people were killed and “many, many more” were injured in shootings in the city of Lewiston, Maine Wednesday evening, local officials reported, with police saying that the gunman was still at large.
City Councilor Robert McCarthy told CNN that the death toll had risen to 22 in the shooting spree that took place at a bowling alley and also at least one other location, a local restaurant and bar, according to media.
“My understanding is that they have a tentative identification… of the shooter at the bowling alley, confirmed 22 dead, many, many more injured,” McCarthy said.
Local police posted a photo of the shooter on Facebook carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic style weapon inside the bowling alley.
The bearded man wore a brown top, blue pants and brown shoes, and police asked for anyone with information on his identity to contact them immediately.
They also released a picture of a white SUV car, and asked for the public’s help in identifying the vehicle, saying its front bumper may have been painted black.
Law enforcement “are investigating two active shooter events,” the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Facebook.
“We are encouraging all businesses to lock down and or close while we investigate. The suspect is still at large.”
The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the matter.
And Maine Governor Janet Mills said she was “aware of and have been briefed on the active shooter situation in Lewiston.”
CNN reported that at least 50 to 60 people were injured in the incidents, citing multiple law enforcement sources, but said it was unclear how many of the injuries were the result of gunfire.
Police and rescuers reportedly arrived at the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley at approximately 7:15 pm local time in response to an active shooter, and thereafter received reports of another shooting at the Schemengees Bar & Grille, according to the Sun Journal local newspaper.
At 8:15 pm, another shooting was reported at a local Walmart distribution center, it said.
– ‘My hometown’ –
Maine Congressman Jared Golden wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter that “like all Mainers, I’m horrified by the events in Lewison tonight. This is my hometown.”
“Right now, all of us are looking to local law enforcement as they gain control of the situation and gather information. Our hearts break for those who are affected,” he said.
Gun violence is alarmingly common in the United States, a country where there are more guns than people and where attempts to clamp down on their spread are always met with stiff resistance.
The United States has recorded over 500 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-governmental organization that defines a mass shooting as four or more people wounded or killed.
Efforts to tighten gun controls have for years run up against opposition from Republicans, staunch defenders of the constitutional right to bear arms.
The political paralysis endures despite widespread outrage over recurring shootings.
Lewiston is the second most populous city in Maine located some 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of the largest city, Portland.