At approximately 7:15 p.m. on October 25, Lewiston first responders rushed to Just-In-Time Recreation, a local bowling alley, responding to initial reports of an active shooter. Soon after, additional casualties were reported and later confirmed at Schemengees Bar and Grille—around four miles south of the bowling alley. The mass shooting is the deadliest in Maine’s history.
At a 10:30 a.m. press conference on Thursday, state and local officials confirmed 18 people were killed by the gunman. An additional 13 were injured.
Officials have warned that both numbers may rise.
At the time of original publication, the gunman, suspected to be Robert R. Card, a 40-year-old resident of Bowdoin, remains at large after local police found his abandoned vehicle at a boat launch in Lisbon, just 10 miles from Bowdoin’s campus.
At 9:52 p.m., the Bowdoin College Office of Safety and Security alerted all students, faculty and staff that the campus would be going into lockout effective immediately.
“As a precaution, due to a mass shooting with multiple victims that occurred at 7:00 p.m. in Lewiston (approx. 20 miles away), and given that the armed suspect is still at large, the College has locked all exterior building doors,” the office wrote in a campus-wide email.
Throughout Wednesday night, Executive Director of the Office of Safety and Security Randy Nichols updated the campus community as the situation evolved. At 11:37 p.m., Nichols sent an email identifying the suspect and urged the campus community to remain indoors if possible. Later, at 4:56 a.m. on Thursday, Nichols emailed the campus once again, this time announcing that all classes and college-sanctioned events would continue as planned for Thursday.
Nine minutes before Thursday’s 8:00 a.m. classes were slated to begin, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Matt Orlando informed students that the College decided to cancel all scheduled programming and in-person classes for the remainder of the day.
“In light of the ongoing investigation and search for the person responsible for last evening’s horrific and tragic shootings in Lewiston, the College has canceled in-person classes and all other programming for today, Thursday, October 26,” Orlando wrote.
Orlando also announced that all libraries and museums would be closed while the campus remains in lockout, a policy that requires OneCard access for all exterior facing doors on campus buildings.
Shortly after Orlando’s Thursday morning email, President Safa Zaki sent an email to the campus community addressing the previous night’s shooting.
“I am heartsick today—for the dead and wounded in Lewiston and their families and loved ones, for those whose lives are upended by this senseless and horrible violence, and for all who are traumatized by the deep fear and uncertainty that it leaves in its wake,” Zaki wrote.
Zaki went on to express her sympathy for the Bates community while also pointing Bowdoin students to resources that can be accessed both in-person and virtually. Additionally, she discouraged any outdoor large gatherings of students while the suspect remains at large.
The College also made an effort to expand staff resources following Wednesday night’s events. Zaki announced that Bowdoin’s partner for staff counseling services, WellSpace@Work, has allotted five additional therapy sessions for all employees at no extra cost.
A Community Support Meeting was held at 4:00 p.m. in the Ladd House common room. Eight students attended the conversation, which was organized by Counseling, Health and Wellness, and Religious and Spiritual Life. The conversation served as an intimate way to facilitate discussion amongst students while counseling staff helped guide the conversations.
On Thursday at 5:56 p.m., Orlando updated the campus community once again. He announced the cancellation of all Friday classes and all Family Weekend events scheduled before 1:30 p.m., as well as the in-person Sarah and James Bowdoin Day Ceremony.
“Students are asked to remember that family guests must be accompanied by a student at all times inside residence halls, dining halls, and any other campus buildings,” Orlando wrote.
The massacre marked 2023’s single deadliest shooting in the United States, which has prompted responses from political leaders far beyond the lines of Androscoggin County.
President Biden released a statement urging lawmakers to tighten down on gun-control laws but also expressed full support for the Lewiston community.
“Once again, our nation is in mourning after yet another senseless and tragic mass shooting,” Biden said. “Today, Jill and I are praying for the Americans who’ve lost their lives, for those still in critical care, and for the families, survivors, and community members enduring shock and grief.”
Governor Mills, who spoke at Thursday’s press conference in Augusta, encouraged all Mainers to heed the advice of local officials.
“I continue to strongly urge Maine people to follow the direction of State and local law enforcement amid this ever changing situation. Please, if you see anything suspicious, I urge you to call 911,” Mills said.
At the time of original publication, Card, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.
Editor’s Note 10/27/2023 at 10:32 p.m.: At 7:45 on October 27, Robert R. Card was found dead near the Androscoggin River in Lisbon Falls, concluding a 48 hour manhunt for the suspect. This article will not receive any further updates.