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The latest on the manhunt for the Maine mass shooting suspect

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Parts of central Maine are still in lockdown at this hour with police now stationed outside a house linked to the suspect in last night's deadly mass shooting. It's not known if he's actually inside this house or if he is still at large. At least 18 people were shot and killed last night at a bowling alley and at a bar restaurant in the town of Lewiston. Thirteen others were wounded. Maine Governor Janet Mills said the entire state and nation stand with Lewiston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JANET MILLS: This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does - no state, no people.

CHANG: Now, police in Lewiston say 40-year-old Robert R. Card II, an Army reservist, is wanted for murder. Joining us now to talk about the latest is NPR's Martin Kaste. Hi, Martin.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Hi. Good afternoon.

CHANG: So bring us up to speed here. What is known as of now about what happened last night in Lewiston?

KASTE: Well, shortly before 7 p.m., police there got a call about an active shooter at a bowling alley. And even as they were still heading there, sending units in that direction, they were told then to start diverting to another business, this time a bar and grill on the other side of town. And at first they were calling it a second active shooter, though it soon became clear this was the same person. And as I was listening to this police scanner - the recordings of the police scanners last night, Lewiston sounded like a city under attack. The police kept chasing unconfirmed reports of possible shooters at other places, other bars and restaurants. There were no more shootings, but the police quickly moved to shut down bars that hadn't yet closed. There was also a scare at the Walmart. Some employees were sheltering in the cold storage till the police showed up to clear them out.

The police also said on the radio that they were in touch with a family member of the likely suspect, who had told them that he also planned to attack another bar, which they then confirmed was already closed or had never opened that evening. But - you know, and that's kind of how things now remain in the city almost 24 hours later. Authorities say that Card, the suspect, should be considered armed and dangerous. People should not approach him. Businesses closed. And residents should stay in their houses, keep their cars locked. And this manhunt is just ongoing.

CHANG: Yeah. It's ongoing. So this alleged shooter - as we said, Robert R. Card II - like, who is he? Tell us more about this person.

KASTE: Well, he's white, 40, longtime resident of Bowdoin near Lewiston. He's an army reservist sergeant first class. He enlisted back in 2002 but never was deployed into combat, divorced in 2007. But perhaps the most pertinent bit of information we have right now is about something that happened to him this past summer. He was at a National Guard training facility in New York State near West Point when Army Reserve officials reported that he was behaving erratically. They were worried about his safety. They called in the state - New York State Police, who then transported him to an Army hospital for evaluation. Now, we don't know for sure what kind, if any, mental health treatment he received. We are still waiting for some confirmation about that from the Army.

CHANG: Interesting. Well, if Card was experiencing some sort of mental health crisis, does Maine have, like, one of those red flag laws where you would be allowed, you know, if you were a concerned family member, to ask a court to temporarily remove the person's firearms, right?

KASTE: Not quite. There was an attempt to pass a law like that about four years ago, but instead they have what some call a yellow flag law. The police can start that process but not family. So in this case, if that - say, that family member of Card's last night who was talking to the police - if they had wanted to perhaps do something about his guns after the incident this past summer, they would not have have had a legal route to do that.

CHANG: OK. And the surveillance video released by the police shows the suspect with a long rifle when he was entering the bowling alley. Do we know anything else about the weapon or weapons that were used?

KASTE: Well, from that image, it's clearly a semiautomatic rifle of some kind. This is the kind that shoots bullets much faster than a handgun would, so they do a lot more damage to the human body. We're not likely to get an exact description, though, of what the exact model of this weapon was until the police have it in their hands for closer inspection.

CHANG: That is NPR's Martin Kaste. Thank you, Martin.

KASTE: You're welcome. 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.

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.