Residents in Lewiston, Maine are unlikely to see their lives return to normal for weeks to come after a devastating mass shooting has rocked the town.
Cops have told locals to stay indoors and keep their doors and cars locked while all public buildings shut down.
Businesses have remained closed, with customers heeding advice and staying away as police continue to search for the man suspected to have killed 18 people in a horrific mass shooting on Wednesday night.
Despite the large number of officers on the job, Robert Card, 40, remains missing and locals are kept waiting in their homes for news of his capture. Some are still waiting to know whether friends or relatives have died.
Lewiston Police named Card as a “person of interest” within hours of the deer hunter opening fire at a busy restaurant and a bowling alley in the small Maine town.
Shelter-in-place orders have remained in place since Wednesday and have extended to nearby Auburn, Lisbon and Bowdoin – Card’s hometown.
Haunting images show city streets totally deserted. The only indication of residents holding on are small signs fixed to windows and trees reading “to my friends” and “to my city”.
As police cars roll down to patrol the area, locals can sometimes be seen walking out to officers to thank them for their work. Some have even offered law enforcement and emergency personnel hugs in a show of support.
Children have been kept home as most schools in the county confirmed they would remain shut, with the local bus service also canceled – an attempt to limit Card’s escape options after he ditched his car.
Bates College in Lewiston also canceled classes Friday and postponed the inauguration of the school’s first Black president, Garry Jenkins, the school’s website said.
Standing outside her Lewiston home while police searched for the suspect in the Maine shootings, April Stevens cried as she described being frustrated and worried.
Stevens, who lives close to the scene, said she knew someone who was killed at the bar and another person who was injured and needed surgery.
She said: “We’re praying for everyone. We’re just hoping everyone gets through this, that the people who are injured recover safely. Our hearts go out to all of those who didn’t make it.”
Stevens said she was working from home Thursday while authorities continued their search for the suspect.
She said she locked her doors and turned on her home’s outside lights Wednesday night in case the shooter was nearby.
She added: “We’re just here to support our friends if they need us. If they need a hug — they need anything — we’re here.”
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