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At least 22 killed, dozens injured, in deadliest US mass shootings

Law enforcement officials released a CCTV photo of a man with a rifle suspected in a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, on October 25, 2023. (Photo by AP)

At least 22 people have been killed and dozens injured in multiple mass shootings in the US state of Maine, with police still searching for the perpetrator.

The carnage took place in the city of Lewiston on Wednesday night, when a man in a brown hoodie and jeans opened fire on people at a bowling alley, a restaurant, and a Walmart distribution center, according to the state and local police.

The Lewiston Police Department identified the suspect as 40-year-old Robert Card, saying he should be considered armed and dangerous.

According to the local police, the person of interest has been a firearm instructor trained by the military and was recently committed to a mental health facility. He had also threatened to carry out a shooting at the military training base in Saco, Maine.

Law enforcement authorities have warned residents to stay indoors and lock doors. About 39,000 people live in Lewiston.

“There is an active shooter in Lewiston. We ask people to shelter in place. Please stay inside your home with the doors locked. Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations. If you see any suspicious activity or individuals please call 911,” Maine State Police said on the X platform.

"We have literally hundreds of police officers working around the state of Maine to investigate this case to locate Mr. Card, who is a person of interest," Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck told a news conference, adding that he did not have a precise figure on the number of people killed in the shootings and the situation is still fluid.

He added that Card’s vehicle had been found in Lisbon, a town a few kilometers out of Lewiston.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, founder of the gun violence prevention organization GIFFORDS, has called the Lewiston shooting “a senseless act of gun violence.”

Giffords was seriously injured in a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, and has gone on to be a prominent advocate for gun control in the United States.

Military industrialists and gun manufacturers dominate the US political scene, where any effort to hold them responsible for rampant gun violence is curbed.

So far this year, the US has witnessed the second-highest number of mass killings and deaths on record as the Lewiston mass shooting is the 566th incident in 2023, the most at this point in the year since 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as four or more shots or killed, not including the shooter.

Before Wednesday's incident, the deadliest US mass shooting of 2023 was in Monterey Park, California, where 11 people were murdered during a Chinese New Year event.

Democrats and gun safety activists have argued that passing stricter laws would reduce the violence, whereas Republicans and gun rights advocates argue that arming teachers would act as a deterrent.

A Gallup poll from October 2022 showed a majority of Americans are in favor of gun control, with a 57 percent majority of all Americans saying they want stricter laws covering the sale of firearms. The US gun homicide rate is 26 times that of other high-income countries.

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