USA: Gunman kills 18 people in Maine

A gunman caused a bloodbath in a small town in the northeast of the USA, leaving numerous people dead and injured.

USA: Gunman kills 18 people in Maine

A gunman caused a bloodbath in a small town in the northeast of the USA, leaving numerous people dead and injured. 18 people were killed in the gun attack, Maine Governor Janet Mills said in Lewiston. 13 people were injured.

The attack took place in the city of 39,000 in a barbecue restaurant and in a leisure center with a bowling alley. A 40-year-old man is wanted who is said to have opened fire there. The suspected perpetrator is on the run. A major manhunt is underway.

The attack and the man behind it

The first emergency calls were received at 6:56 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the police said. Photos from surveillance cameras at one of the two crime scenes were published. A man can be seen holding an assault rifle. The suspect is said to be a military reservist and trained firearms instructor who is said to have been receiving psychiatric treatment over the summer. The police initially withheld details about the suspect, citing the ongoing investigation and the search for the man.

William Ross of the Maine State Police said the suspect was considered "armed and dangerous." He warned against approaching the man. People in the area were asked not to leave their homes. Several schools remained closed. Today the police expanded the security warnings to other locations around Lewiston because the perpetrator had not yet been caught many hours after the attack.

According to police, seven people died at the bowling alley and eight people died at the barbecue restaurant. Three others later died in hospital. Several injured people were treated today. According to official information, three of them were in mortal danger.

The horror at the crime scene

A witness told ABC television that her 11-year-old daughter was bowling when the first shots were fired. "I lay over her to protect her," she said. Another witness reported to CNN that he hid from the shooter in the bowling alley and feared for his life.

About ten kilometers from Lewiston, emergency services found the car they were looking for, a white SUV. Nothing was initially known about possible motives. Ross emphasized that the investigation was running alongside the search for the man. The situation is very fluid. Many forces are deployed to track down the suspect.

Lewiston is located about 200 kilometers north of Boston on the east coast of the USA. Maine is one of the smaller and sparsely populated states and is located in the northeastern tip of the country. Major attacks with firearms occur much less frequently there than in other parts of the country. Governor Mills said, "Our small state of just 1.3 million residents has long been known as one of the safest states in the nation." This is a “dark day for Maine.”

The sad everyday life of gun violence

In the United States as a whole, rampages and fatal shootings are sadly part of everyday life. Firearms are easily available there and are widely circulated. Bloody attacks with many victims regularly shake the country - for example at schools, supermarkets, nightclubs or at large events. After every major attack, there are new calls for gun laws to be tightened, for example for a ban on assault rifles, which are regularly used in rampages. However, the demands are in vain, not least because of resistance from the Republican ranks.

US President Joe Biden again called for stricter gun laws after the fatal shooting in Lewiston. "Far too many Americans have a family member who has been killed or injured by gun violence. This is not normal and we cannot accept it," the Democrat warned in a written statement. He urged Republicans to work with fellow Democrats to ban assault rifles. "This is the least we owe every American who must now bear the physical and emotional scars of this latest attack."

The shock for the residents

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline was shocked. “I am heartbroken for our city and our people,” he wrote in a statement. The place is known for its strength and courage. “We will need both in the coming days,” he added. The mayor of the neighboring city of Auburn, Jason Levesque, was also dismayed. Fear, panic and concern had spread among residents, he told reporters. "You can train for something like this, but you can never be fully prepared," he added. Auburn is about 1.5 kilometers from Lewiston.

A Lewiston city council member, Robert McCarthy, described the situation as surreal. "It's just so unreal," he told CNN. "You see it on the news and you tell yourself it's never going to happen here. And then it happens here, and it just blows your mind."