A devastating mass shooting incident struck Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night, resulting in the loss of at least 16 lives and leaving dozens more injured. The state’s second-largest city was thrown into chaos as a gunman opened fire at a bowling alley and a bar.
As of the latest reports, the suspect remains at large, prompting authorities to issue an urgent plea for residents and business owners to stay indoors and refrain from venturing onto the streets. Two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with The Associated Press, disclosed that dozens of individuals had sustained injuries during the incident.
Lewiston Police initially alerted the public via a Facebook post, confirming an active shooter situation at Schemengees Bar and Grille and Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley situated approximately 4 miles away. The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office released two photos of the suspect on their Facebook page, depicting the armed assailant entering an establishment.
In response to the unfolding crisis, Lewiston Police urged residents to stay off the roads to ensure unimpeded access for emergency responders to local hospitals. Central Maine Medical Center, in a statement on its website, confirmed that their staff were responding to a mass casualty event involving a mass shooter. The hospital is actively coordinating with nearby medical facilities to receive patients. Further details were withheld due to the ongoing situation, and the hospital itself was placed under lockdown.
Melinda Small, the owner of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, described the immediate actions taken by her staff in response to the shooting report. They swiftly locked their doors, relocated all 25 customers and employees away from the entrance, and awaited law enforcement guidance. Eventually, police officers escorted everyone out of the building in groups of four, ensuring their safety.
Small conveyed her shock at the events, expressing gratitude for her team’s rapid response but also reflecting on the heartbreak affecting the community. She stated, “I am honestly in a state of shock. I am blessed that my team responded quickly and everyone is safe. But at the same time, my heart is broken for this area and for what everyone is dealing with. I just feel numb.”
An alert for Lewiston was issued shortly after 8 p.m., indicating that law enforcement agencies were investigating “two active shooter events.” Authorities later provided an update around 10 p.m., characterizing the situation as a manhunt.
Residents were implored to avoid the affected area and seek alternative routes, while businesses were strongly encouraged to initiate lockdown procedures or close temporarily during the investigation.
A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety urged residents to remain in their homes with locked doors and adhere to the shelter-in-place order. Maine Governor Janet Mills echoed these instructions in her statement and assured that she had been briefed on the situation while staying in close contact with public safety officials. President Joe Biden was also briefed on the matter by the White House.
Lewiston, situated approximately 35 miles north of Portland, has seen a significant demographic shift due to the immigration of the Somali population, numbering in the thousands. This transformation has diversified the city, previously characterized by its predominantly white population.
City officials declined to comment on the shooting, with plans for Maine State Police to hold a news conference to provide updates on the situation. Maine Senator Angus King expressed his sadness and concern for the city of Lewiston and its residents, stating that he was closely monitoring the situation. Senator King’s office indicated that he would return to Maine once the Senate’s final vote concluded on Thursday afternoon.