DEVELOPING STORYDEVELOPING STORY,
Police say suspect, who remains at large, targeted businesses in Lewiston including a bar and bowling alley.
At least 16 people have been killed and dozens wounded after a gunman went on a shooting spree in the northeastern state of Maine in the United States.
Two law enforcement officials in the city of Lewiston told The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity that the death toll from the attack was likely to rise.
US media outlet NBC News, citing an unnamed Lewiston law enforcement official, said at least 22 people had been killed and as many as 60 wounded in the attack.
State and local police said that they were searching for a suspect who remained at large. They did not say how many people had been killed or hurt. About 39,000 people live in Lewiston.
The Lewiston Police Department released a photo on its Facebook page of a person of interest, named as Robert Card.
“CARD should be considered armed and dangerous,” they wrote.
A state police bulletin said Card had been trained as a firearms instructor at a US army reserve training centre in Maine, but had spent two weeks in a mental health facility during the summer.
Police earlier shared two photos of a bearded man in a long-sleeved brown shirt and dark combat trousers with a rifle raised to his shoulder. They also released a photo of an abandoned white SUV with its doors open, asking the public for information.
“There is an active shooter in Lewiston,” Maine state police said on the social media platform X. “We ask people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked. Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations.”
The gunman targeted a bar, a bowling alley and a Walmart distribution centre, according to the local Sun Journal newspaper.
On its website, Central Maine Medical Center said staff were “reacting to a mass casualty, mass shooter event” and were coordinating with hospitals in the area to take in patients.
Maine State Police were planning to hold a news conference on the attack later on Wednesday night.
Lewiston is about 35 miles (56 km) north of Portland, Maine’s largest city.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shootings, and had also spoken on the phone individually to Maine Governor Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and Congressman Jared Golden about the attack offering full federal support in the wake of the attack, the White House said.
If the death toll of 22 is confirmed, the Lewiston attack would be the deadliest mass shooting in the US since at least August 2019, when a gunman opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart with an AK-47 rifle, killing 23, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
There were 647 mass shootings – attacks in which at least four people were killed – in 2022, including the primary school in Uvalde, Texas where a teenage gunman shot dead 19 young children and two adults.
Some 679 mass shootings are expected this year, based on trends as of July, according to data from the archive.
Amid the continuing gun violence, Biden has repeatedly called for gun law reform, urging Republican legislators to join him in putting forward “commonsense reforms”, including a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and an end to legal immunity for gun manufacturers.