LEWISTON, Maine — At least 16 people are dead and dozens more have been injured after a bowling alley came under fire in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday evening, law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News. The death toll is likely to rise, officials said.
Hours after the shooting, the deadliest of the year and one of the deadliest in recent decades, the gunman remained on the loose. Hundreds of police were searching for a person of interest as communities remained under shelter-in-place orders.
The shooting unfolded in part during youth night at a local bowling alley. Witnesses described a desperate scene where people hid behind benches and tables and even inside the machine at the end of the lane where the pins are.
Riley Dumont said she heard a loud bang after which her father, a retired cop, corralled them into a corner and put protection in front of them including “tables and a big bench that the kids were hiding behind.”
“I was laying on top of my daughter. My mother was laying on top of me,” said Riley Dumont.
“It felt like it lasted a lifetime,” she added. “I just remember people sobbing and crying.”
Lewiston police have identified a person of interest as Robert Card, who’s still at large.
Card allegedly has a history of military service and is a firearms instructor, sources said.
The sources said he also has a mental health history, including a two-week stay this summer at a mental health facility after he allegedly made threats about carrying out a shooting at a National Guard facility.
Authorities have traced his white Subaru to a location in Lisbon, Maine, sources said, as the manhunt continues.
Another witness at the bowling alley, whose name is Brandon but whose last name was not made available, described hearing a “loud pop.”
“Thought it was a balloon,” Brandon said. “I had my back turned to the door. As soon as I turned and saw that it was not a balloon, he was holding a weapon. I just bucked it down the lane and I slid basically into where the pins are and climbed up to the machine and was on top of the machines for about 10 minutes until the cops got there.”
Meghan Hutchinson, another shooting witness, said, “We were very scared and we didn’t know, like, we didn’t know what to do, what to expect from this. You know, nothing like this has ever happened here before. We barricaded in there and another parent was in the room with me. She had a phone and she called 911.”
Zoe Levesque said she was grazed by a bullet.
“I never thought I’d grow up and get a bullet in my leg,” she said. “Like, why do people do this? I was more worried about, like, am I going to live and I going to make it out of here. Like, what’s going to happen? Are the cops going to come?”
There was an outpouring of support for victims from elected officials. The White House said President Biden was briefed on the matter.
Gov. Janet Mills posted on X that she was aware of the situation and urging “all people in the area to follow the direction of State and local enforcement. I will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with public safety officials.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the mass shooting in Lewiston is already the deadliest shooting of the year.
Meanwhile, municipal offices in Lewiston and Lisbon will be closed on Thursday, officials said. In Lewiston, where the mass shooting occurred, officials said they would also close the library and cancel all events, including early voting, at city buildings. Schools were set to be closed in Lewiston and Lisbon.
“Non-emergency personnel should stay at home tomorrow too,” the city said in a social media post.
Maine State Police plan on briefing the media at 10:30 a.m. ET.
“I am heartbroken for our city and our people,” Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said in a statement. “Lewiston is known for our strength and grit and we will need both in the days to come.”
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky and Josh Margolin contributed to this report.