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Newly released 911 transcripts document desperate pleas for help during Lewiston mass shootings

A member of security (right) stands at an emergency department entrance at Central Maine Medical Center during an active shooter situation, in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.
Steven Senne
AP file
A member of security (right) stands at an emergency department entrance at Central Maine Medical Center during an active shooter situation, in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

The Maine Department of Public Safety has released transcripts from multiple 911 calls placed to three communications centers on the night of the Lewiston mass shootings on Oct. 25.

The transcripts from 51 calls span just over two hours, with nearly all of them being recorded in an 11-minute period that began just before 7 p.m. They paint a picture of desperation from callers trying to get help and from dispatchers trying to manage a chaotic situation with multiple victims in two locations.

Names of the callers are not provided and other confidential information has also been redacted.

"There's a shooter at the bowling alley in Lewiston ... there's a guy shooting," a woman tells a dispatcher at 6:56 pm. "Please hurry."

"Do you see him," the dispatcher asks.

"No," she says, "I'm locked in the office right now..."

At about the same time, other callers report seeing a man with an AR-style weapon in the bowling alley and hearing shots. Some of them say they have managed to exit the building and are fleeing toward the woods or toward a nearby Subway sandwich shop.

Another woman reports that she has a kid who has been shot in the arm and is bleeding.

Dispatchers repeatedly tell callers that police are on the way.

"They're on their way, I promise," one tells a caller.

And they also offer instructions to those people still in hiding in a back room where there is at least one person injured.

"Take a deep breath and you're going to keep me on the phone until they get there, OK?" a dispatcher says. "What I need you to do is stay very quiet and stay out of sight."

"Perfect. Sounds good," the caller says.

Moments later there's a noise that the people in the room can't make out. And they're reluctant to open the door. The dispatcher tells them that several officers have arrived. They happened to be off-duty at a nearby shooting range and were able to respond in minutes.

"Is the police here at the door in the back?" the caller asks.

"I don't know who is there and where, where everybody is," the dispatcher replies.

"Find out because they're trying to get in and we're scared..." the caller says.

At approximately 7:07 pm, 911 calls start pouring in about another active shooter at Schemengees Bar and Grille, about four miles from the bowling alley.

"I don't now where he is. I'm on the field hiding," the first caller says. "I have a man that looks like he's shot with me....looks like his arm. I think he's in shock."

"If needed, with a piece of clothing, wrap it around tightly, form a tourniquet until an ambulance can get to you," the dispatcher says.

Just one minute after that a man calls in and reports that the shooter has left the bar but the caller is in the parking lot, he's been grazed by a bullet and he's looking for his wife. He also describes watching two men perform CPR on someone else.

"There's a lot (inaudible) lots of casualties," he tells the dispatcher. "I don't — I don't know how — a lot."

Later that night police released a photo of the suspected shooter and a description of his vehicle. And just a few minutes before 9 p.m., a call about the suspect is recorded by 911.

"Um, it's not an emergency. Um, it's about the shooting in Lewiston and we're a little concerned," the person says. "We might know who the photo is...And we don't know what to do."

"Do you have his name?" the dispatcher asks.

"Robert Card. He's from — uh, he lives on West Road in Bowdoin."

It would be the next day before police would be able to share that name with the public and to confirm the final number of his victims: 18 dead and 13 injured, the worst mass shooting in Maine history.