Maine gunman identified as US army's petroleum supply specialist - as police intensify manhunt

A gunman who shot dead 18 people in the US state of Maine has been identified as a US Army Reserve petroleum supply specialist.

Robert Card, who is still on the run, has over two decades of service and no prior overseas deployments, the army confirmed.

Maine police intensified their search on Thursday for the 40-year-old US Army reservist, following a shooting incident that resulted in 18 deaths and 13 injuries at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston the previous night.

Card, holding the rank of sergeant 1st class, enlisted in December 2002, according to army officials.

Follow live: Manhunt in Maine

Maine governor, Janet Mills, warned residents in a news conference on Thursday not to approach the "person of interest" who is "armed and dangerous" and to call police immediately if he is spotted.

"I'm profoundly saddened to stand before you today to report that 18 people lost their lives and 13 people were injured in last night's attacks," she said.

"In memory of those we lost, and in honour of those who were injured, President Biden and I have ordered all US flags to be lowered...for the next five days."

She added: "Maine state police have issued a shelter in place order for Lewiston, Bowdoin and Lisburn as the manhunt continues for that person of interest.

"Mr Card is considered armed and dangerous and police advise that Maine people should not approach him under any circumstances."

'We cannot accept it', Biden says

President Joe Biden urged residents in the vicinity of the Maine mass shootings suspect search to follow the guidance provided by local law enforcement.

"For countless Americans who have survived gun violence and been traumatised by it, a shooting such as this reopens deep and painful wounds," he said in a statement, adding that he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the families of the victims.

"Far too many Americans have now had a family member killed or injured as a result of gun violence. That is not normal, and we cannot accept it."

Suspect was under mental health care

Card, who had reportedly been under mental health care earlier in the summer, was taken by police for evaluation after acting erratically at West Point in July, according to a US official.

Another anonymous US official told the Associated Press that commanders from the Army Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, grew worried about Card's erratic behaviour during their training at West Point.

Concerned for his safety, military officials called the police. New York state police then took Card to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for evaluation.

In an extensive manhunt, law enforcement officers spread out across southern Maine armed with an arrest warrant for Card on eight counts of murder.

Police circulated images of a man, wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt and jeans, captured at one of the crime scenes, wielding what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.

The US Army confirmed that Card, a sergeant and petroleum supply specialist in the Army Reserve, had never been deployed in combat since his enlistment in 2002.

The attacks began shortly before 7pm local time at Sparetime Recreation bowling alley, resulting in the deaths of one female patron and six males, according to police.

The ages of the victims were not provided. Shortly after, reports of another shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, approximately three miles (5km) away, were received.

Police said that seven males were fatally shot at that location. Additionally, three victims died in hospital.

Several parents and children were present at Sparetime as part of a children's bowling league.

One of the bowlers, who identified himself as Brandon, recounted the incident, saying: "I had my back turned to the door. And as soon as I turned and saw it was not a balloon - he was holding a weapon - I just booked it." He described hearing about 10 shots, initially mistaking the first for a balloon popping.

Brandon further explained how he hurriedly fled down the alley, eventually sliding into the pin area and climbing up to hide in the machinery. Reflecting on the situation, he mentioned, "I was putting on my bowling shoes when it started. I've been barefoot for five hours."