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Massive manhunt continues for the gunman who killed 18 people in Lewiston, Maine

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The people of Lewiston, Maine, and nearby communities have endured nearly 24 hours of fear and grief after a mass shooting Wednesday evening. Eighteen people are dead and 13 injured, some of them critically. The primary suspect, Robert Card, is still on the run. There's a massive manhunt underway, and local residents are sheltering in place. And at this very moment, there is a large police presence at a house in Bowdoin, Maine. NPR's Brian Mann is there and joins us now. Hi, Brian.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK, so we're going to talk a little more about what you're seeing at the moment. But first, catch us up. What do we know as of now about what happened last night?

MANN: Yeah. This shooting was a terrible thing. There were two sites where the individual that - he's been identified as Robert Card. He's the primary suspect. Again, this is an allegation - that he shot at a bowling alley and then moved to a kind of bar and grill. Eighteen people killed, 13 others injured, as you mentioned, some of them critically injured - it just created chaos in this small community in Maine. The hospitals were inundated with victims of this attack, people coming through the door about every three minutes. Huge medical and first responder response - it was a very ugly night.

CHANG: And right now you're in front of this house that is surrounded by law enforcement. Just tell us what you're seeing. What is happening right now?

MANN: Yeah, I'm standing out in a meadow. I guess, probably, Ailsa, about 200 yards away from the house, maybe a little further. You may be able to hear that there's a helicopter in the moonlit sky overhead circling and a huge presence of police and SWAT teams here on the ground. This is actually a house that I was at earlier in the day today as I was knocking on doors just trying to find family members of Robert Card. It's not clear whether they're sure that he's inside. They have been speaking through loudspeakers, asking people inside to come out with their hands up. Again, we just haven't seen any response there. But yeah, this is the biggest pressure that we've seen since this manhunt began.

CHANG: So we do know that there are people inside the house - we just don't know who?

MANN: At this point, we don't know that.

CHANG: We don't know.

MANN: Yeah, at this point - in fact, what Maine Police said is that this is a standard procedure for any kind of situation where there's a risk this high. They believe Robert Card is armed and very, very dangerous. Exactly what indication they might have that he's inside, we don't know at this point. And I'll say, Ailsa, that I've covered big manhunts before, and I've seen exactly this kind of thing that turned out to be nothing. It turned out, you know, to be a false alarm or a false positive. So it may be that he's inside and this may be it, or it may turn out that this is another effort that comes up empty.

CHANG: And in the few moments that we have left - about 40 seconds - can you tell us a little bit more about Robert Card? What do we know about him so far? - an Army reservist, I understand, correct?

MANN: Yeah. That's right. And it appears last (ph) summer that some of his Army peers had concerns about what they described to NPR as erratic behavior. They did bring him in some way to a hospital facility. We don't have all the details on that, but it's unclear what happened between that event in the summer and this moment when he allegedly, you know, was very well armed and was - again, this is an allegation at this point - was - he's the prime suspect in this attack. And right now, those are the details we know.

CHANG: That is NPR's Brian Mann in Bowdoin, Maine. Thank you so much, Brian.

MANN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Brian Mann
Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.