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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin
At Least 22 Killed in Maine Shootings, Suspect at Large; Manhunt Underway After Shootings in Maine, Residents Told to Shelter in Place. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired October 26, 2023 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Thursday, October 26th, 5:00 a.m. here in the East.
And we have some devastating breaking news this morning. An urgent manhunt is underway right now after officials say a gunman opened fire at two locations in Maine, killing at least a dozen people, according to a city counselor, dozens more were injured in two shootings last night at a restaurant and bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. That is about 45 minutes north of Portland.
Police are searching for this man, 40-year-old Robert Card, declaring him a person of interest in the shootings. The sheriff released these photos for identification. You see him there holding a high powered assault style rifle. Officials tell CNN that Card is in the U.S. Army Reserves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMISSIONER MIKE SAUSCHUCK, MAINE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Card is considered armed and dangerous. If people see him, they should not approach card or make contact with him in any way. The shelter-in- place order that currently stands in Lewiston remains. A vehicle which was a vehicle of interest in this incident was located in Lisbon and we are now also asking residents in Lisbon to shelter in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Officials say that schools and municipal offices in the area will be closed today.
Let's bring in CNN's Athena Jones with the latest.
Athena, good morning to you.
What more do we know about this person of interest in the case and this ongoing manhunt for him?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kasie. Well, as you mentioned, Robert Card, 40 years old, the commissioner of Maine's department of public safety, calling him a person of interest and person of interest only on at this point in time. But it is also clear that authorities don't know where he is.
We know that this shooting began unfolding last night around 7:00 p.m. at those two locations about ten minutes apart by car. Within a couple of hours, authorities had released this photo and several others, other angles, in order to get the public's help in identifying this man. They also released a photograph of his vehicle which was later found in the town of Lisbon nearby.
And this is a relatively small area. Lewiston, neighboring town of Auburn which is also under shelter-in-place order, we're talking a population of about 60,000. So, the mayor of Auburn saying this tragedy will affect everyone in the community.
We know there will be a press conference, at least one is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. We hope to get an update on a number of things including the number of dead and the number of wounded. And any updates on where authorities think that this man may be.
As you mentioned, Robert Card, 40 years old, he is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and certified firearms instructor. You can see him there. He clearly has a long gun, AR-15 style rifle and was able to do quite a bit of damage at those two locations.
We also know from witnesses that we're talking about victims of all ages. The mayor of Auburn talking about the folks at the bowling alley, that was the location of the first shooting. We saw many people running from that location. And the mayor has said that there were children there.
So he said the age ranges from 12 to 90 years old. And so still much to be discovered. We hope to learn more in about 5 1/2 hours at this press conference from police.
We know that the ATF and FBI are helping local law enforcement. President Biden who was briefed last night, of course, directed federal help to the state. We are unclear about the connection Robert Card may have had to these two locations, to this restaurant and the bowling alley.
So there is a lot of questions still to be answered. But, of course, this tragedy overwhelmed local hospitals. Again, we're talking about a community that is not very large. There are a number of trauma centers in neighboring towns, but we know that hospitals had to call in all off duty staff to deal with this tragedy and authorities set up a -- what they are calling a family reunification center at a middle school in Auburn to help serve the families who have questions or who are concerned about where their loved ones are -- Kasie.
HUNT: Just absolutely devastating.
Athena, let's just -- to give people who are just waking up to this news, you mentioned it started to unfold at 7:00 p.m. last night. We had the -- there were two locations, the bowling alley as well as the Schemengees Bar & Grille. Schemengees put a message of grief on their Facebook page early
Thursday morning. They said: My heart is crushed. I'm at a loss for words. In a split-second, your world gets turned upside down.
The post said: We lost great people in the community. How can we make any sense of this?
So not only are they grappling with this grief right now, as they said in that heartfelt post, but also there is still this fear continuing because this person of interest is still at large.
JONES: Certainly. I mean, this shelter in place order, it's a frightening sort of thing to be experiencing. And we heard that from witnesses in those towns speaking to us on the air last night. Shelter in place still in effect for Lewiston and for Lisbon, that is where Card's vehicle was found, a white SUV. So, it's unclear at this point where he's found another vehicle, where he might be.
We heard from law enforcement last night, you know, with the passage of time, he could be far from the location of those two shootings. It is just unclear. But because this hasn't been resolved, because the person of interest has not yet been located and captured, this is going to leave the community still already having to heal from these terrible wounds and deaths and tragedy, they are also having to live with this ongoing fear. And so, certainly a community on edge this morning -- Kasie.
Athena Jones, thank you very much. We'll be back with you throughout the hour as we get more reporting on this.
For more insight about what happens next, let's bring in Ken Gray. He's a professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven and a former FBI special agent.
Ken, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I mean, as Athena was just telling us, Robert Card, this person of interest, is military trained, he is a certified firearms instructor and he has recently reported mental health issues.
Can you help us understand how this would change the approach for law enforcement who are trying to find him?
KEN GRAY, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN: Yes. Well, good morning, Kasie.
This is very fluid situation as was said. This is a person of interest. They have not definitely made the connection to Mr. Card and this event, but certainly looks like he may become a suspect in this case.
Card is a firearms instructor, a member of the National Guard there. And so, he is a very dangerous person, a person that is very well- trained with this weapon. He entered into, first, the bowling alley where a children's event was going on, and shot up the bowling alley and then moved from there, several miles away, to the bar and grille where he also shot a number of people there.
So, and then he moved from there, several miles away, to Lisbon, to a boat ramp there, and dumped his car. So, we don't know if he got into another vehicle there or if he got to a boat there, or if he went into the woods there.
It's still a very, very fluid situation where this is still early on in the investigation. But I'm really amazed how much information is already known here with just less than 12 hours away.
HUNT: You say that you are amazed that so much information is known. I mean, it is unusual for -- when something like this happens for them to put so much out about a person of interest partly because there is concern about copycats or encouraging others to take actions like this.
I mean, what do you make of how much information we have?
GRAY: So, to put out this amount of information, possibly location information on them, somebody that may have seen him or know him and know where he might be going to. This kind of information is very helpful to law enforcement in trying to locate somebody very early on here in this investigation.
Additionally, they have already obtained records to show that he had had mental health issues, that he had threatened to shoot up a National Guard base there in Saco, Maine. And that he had spent two weeks inside a mental hospital, or some type of hospital for the mental health issues here. And so again, this is very early on, very fluid. But this is all very useful information and the search for Mr. Card.
HUNT: Right. So, Ken, we're hearing that the FBI's Boston division is saying that they are ready to assist with anything, you know, resources, whatever is needed for the police, the local police in these areas, evidence response, tactical support. What kind of coordination might unfold here and what might federal law enforcement be able to bring to the table when you know you have a person of interest with all of these skills that local law enforcement might need?
GRAY: So Boston FBI could put 200 or more agents into the field to augment the search. They have a SWAT team there in Boston division that could up and also provide assistance.
You got to remember that FBI is not just Washington, D.C., they have presence throughout the country. And Maine is part of the Boston division.
So they already have a presence there in Maine in their resident agencies. But they can bring manpower to bear, they can bring in the evidence response team, they can bring in the SWAT teams. They can provide all kinds of assistance to assist Lewiston police in this search.
So, manpower, evidence collection, and investigation. They can also put a lot of investigators in the field go out and interview people to assist in this ongoing situation.
HUNT: All right. Ken Gray, thank you very much for the insight you were able to offer. We'll be back with you later on this hour because we are getting more information on the mass shooting in Maine that killed and injured a number of people, dozens. Lewiston, Maine, under a shelter-in-place order as police hunt for a person of interest.
We'll have the latest just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a night of bowling. And out of nowhere, he just came in and a loud pop.
Thought it was a balloon, I had my back turned to the door. As soon as I turned and saw it was not a balloon, he was holding a weapon, I just booked it down the lane and I slid basically where the pins are and climbed up through the machine and was on top of the machines for about ten minute until the cops got there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Absolutely terrifying that man describing the horrifying scene at a bowling alley in Maine after a gunman opened fire there and then went to a bar Wednesday, and left more than more than a dozen people dead. The suspect has not been identified, but an intensive manhunt s now underway for a person of interest, 40-year-old Robert Card.
Police say he is considered armed and dangerous and they are asking residents to shelter in place.
CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now by phone.
Omar, of course, you rushed there overnight and you have made it to the scene. But can you tell us what you see now and walk us through what we know?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yeah, Kasie. So, we're about a block away from the bar, the restaurant bar and grille, which is one of the shooting locations. Police have it blocked off right now. But just to give people a time line of how this evening unfolded, it was around 7:00 p.m. local time last night where two shootings were reported in Lewiston which is just north of Portland, Maine. And, multiple casualties, and so, of course, law enforcement began to scramble. Local county sheriff put out photos of the armed suspect and then said
that they were investigating two active shooter incidents. And then later on, police specifically named a person of interest, again, we don't know if it is the same person in the initial photos that were put out, but Robert Card was named as a person of interest by police on social media, someone that they are continuing to look for right now.
And it has left people in this community in a shelter-in-place warning and many on edge. I can tell you when we got to our hotel, you know, after making the overnight journey here, we couldn't get in unless we showed our ID up against the glass of the door. Even still the attendant that came to check our ID was sort of hiding behind cover because he wasn't sure who we were.
I mean, he told us how tense it was for him just being in an overnight position not knowing who may walk up to the doors of the hotel. And so that kind of gives you a sense of how some people are feeling here in the area as this manhunt continues. And, of course, as hospitals are dealing with this mass casualty event across two locations as we understand.
So this is not a huge town. It is safe to say that the suddenness of the amount of people that need care would be very, very least potentially overwhelming for some of the crews. And so, this is going to be something that is going to be ongoing throughout the day. Obviously, we're in the very early stages just past 5:00 a.m. local time here.
But obviously a situation that many people here in town are nervous about and are hoping can come to a safe conclusion soon.
HUNT: Yeah, Omar, that is -- that is a really illuminating anecdote you experienced when you went to go check into your hotel. Can you talk a little bit about where this area is, what these towns are like, how big they are, how small they are? Because all these residents will be waking up, schools are going to be closed, they will have to keep their kids at home because they are concerned about where this person of interest might be.
JIMENEZ: Yeah, so Lewiston, Maine, is just north of Portland, Maine. Just about 30 miles or so. And it is actually the second biggest city in Maine, around 36,000 people.
So while second biggest city in Maine, not the biggest city overall. That said, as you mentioned, schools closed, universities also doing the same thing just because the shelter-in-place orders are still out. There is a matter of safety and for these residents and not knowing exactly where this person is, whether it's a person of interest or police have actually identified a suspect here.
And so at the very least, as people are waking up, they are going to be waking up to likely a different picture than what they saw when they went to bed. At the very least, one that wasn't resolved when they went to bed if they happened to stay up late and stay on top of all of the latest developments. And so whenever anything like this happens, you know, it takes
patience from the public, but it also puts the public a little bit on edge as they wait for law enforcement to do the job that can't just be done in a few seconds. They also are utilizing every resource they have at their disposal.
We know that state police is also helping in this investigation and, of course, among the leaders in trying to find this person or potentially multiple people.
And so, at this point, like I said, it's very early in the day right now, but police and law enforcement have been working overnight around the clock to try and get this to some sort of safe conclusion.
But, obviously, when you look at what has happened and what police have told us have happened, over a dozen people killed at this point. Many more injured across two locations, one at a bowling alley/recreation center, the other at a bar and grille.
These are places where people are gathering to have a good time. We don't know the motivation. There is so much more to learn in this particular case, but at the very least it is scary for a town that does not see violence of this scale.
I mean, no town should see a violence of this scale, but this town in particular does not see something like this. It is a shock to the residence here and again I believe that once they wake up, they're going to be hoping that they can come to a conclusion soon.
HUNT: No, it's absolutely devastating just what we know here, dozens of people killed. Excuse me, killed and injured. A counsel member told us 22 people were killed.
Omar Jimenez, we're going to be coming back to you through the hour. And we are going to continue to have the very latest on these mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, as police continue. There is a live search for the gunman for a person of interest, don't go anywhere, we'll have the latest when we come back.
HUNT: Welcome back.
We have breaking news this morning. An urgent manhunt underway right now after officials say a gunman opened fire at two locations in Maine, killing more than a dozen people. Dozens more were injured in two shootings last night -- one at a restaurant and the other at a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. It's about 45 minute north of Portland.
Residents are being told to shelter in place with the ongoing manhunt to find the person of interest. Laura Coates spoke with someone in the community as this unfolded last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: What did you tell your daughter who was with you? I can't imagine as a mother how to make sense of it and to relay that to a child.
NICHOEL WYMAN AREL, EYEWITNESS: I mean, we have open dialogue, you know? So we -- so we talked about it. She started crying and saying this is a scary world we live in, mom. And I'm like I know.
And my older kids were talking about getting backpacks, the bulletproof backpacks, you know, because it seems like there is always some sort of threat at the school. Just starting to be -- stuff like that gets real when something so big happens. Like okay, that really could be our school next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: That really is every mother's worst nightmare including mine.
There is a press conference set for 10:30 this morning where we expect to get more details. But let's -- we're joined now by CNN law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe who is up early with us to try to help us understand a little bit more of what is unfolding right now.
Thank you very much for being with us, sir.
We're obviously just getting this information in, but law enforcement in Maine has put out a remarkable amount of information about the person of interest. We don't often hear as many details as we have right now. But the reality is it is a live situation and they put out a photo of a gunman with an assault style rifle and the alert is for a man named Robert Card.
You can help us understand what the unfolding manhunt looks like behind the scenes. What are they -- what are law enforcement agencies doing right now both at the local and federal levels?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. So it is crucially important as you mentioned that law enforcement continue to push as much information to the community as they can. The community is an essential part of this phase of the investigation, which is simply a manhunt. They are trying to locate and obviously apprehend this individual.
You know, it seems -- it is a witness of a reflection of just a few weeks ago when we spent about ten days or so tracking the manhunt for the escaped prisoner outside of Philadelphia. If you think back to that experience, this one is going to be substantially different because here, the person they are looking for is from the area.
He lives in Maine. He is a reservist. He works out of a military base in Saco, which is a little south of the Lewiston area where we're currently focused.
So this is someone who in addition to being highly trained from his military experience, he's -- in addition to just being in the military, he is a firearms instructor and tactics instructor, obviously incredibly capable and lethal with this weapon. He has access to things like transportation. He has access presumably to a telephone so he can monitor those things that are being said about him, the information that is being released about him as the search is ongoing.
He locally probably has numerous friends, family members, associates in the area. He knows the roads. He knows the surrounding, very rural country that surrounds Lewiston and stretches out presumably in every direction.
So this is a very, very tough manhunt for all of the law enforcement resources, everything from Lewiston police all across your local police.