Police block the road Oct. 28 while investigating the mass shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer, file

Someone was trying to get into the room where a woman was hiding in the dark with at least one child. But the dispatcher could not confirm whether it was police or the gunman in black who had walked into the crowded bowling alley and started firing.

“Do not open that door for nobody,” said the dispatcher, who, like several others, found themselves suddenly flooded with calls pleading for help on the evening of Oct. 25, when Robert Card entered Just-in-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille and killed 18 people and wounded 13 others.

The Maine State Police on Monday released 51 transcripts of 911 calls made to three communication centers during the mass shooting in Lewiston.

The records were obtained through a Freedom of Access Act request filed on Oct. 26 by the Kennebec Journal on behalf of the Maine Trust for Local News, which also publishes the Sun Journal, Portland Press Herald and Morning Sentinel. They were released minutes before state police widely distributed them to all Maine media outlets.

None of the callers is identified, and some information, mostly that about the callers and the wounded, is redacted. But the transcripts still convey the mass panic and confusion as the shootings unfolded and sent bowlers, cornhole players and diners scrambling for cover.

Several calls lasted for only a few moments before dispatchers cleared the line so they’d be ready if fresh information about the shooter’s whereabouts came in. Other times, dispatchers stayed on the phone with callers who were hiding from Card as they worried he stalked the businesses. And one transcript details the moment, about two hours after the shooting started, when a caller reported that the photo police released of the gunman in the bowling alley looked like Robert Card.


“And we’ve been very concerned about his – we know he has firearms in his house,” the caller said at 8:57 p.m. “He lives alone. He shut his family out recently. We’ve just been really concerned about his mental health lately.”

The caller went on to say that Card was “basically estranged” from his family and that they’d already reached out to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. They provided Card’s birthdate and the address of his home on West Road in Bowdoin – the same home where deputies had tried and failed to find Card in September after learning that he had threatened to commit a mass shooting at his Army Reserve base in Saco.


The first call came in at 6:55 p.m., and more followed in rapid succession.

“There’s a shooter at the bowling alley in Lewiston,” said one caller, who said they were locked in an office with someone else, possibly a child. “Please hurry.”

As the dispatcher tells the caller “we’re on our way,” the caller tells someone else to “stay down.”


Another said she is “at the front desk” and “he just walked out my door like two seconds ago.”

Asked by the dispatcher for a description of the suspect, the caller says he has a black “AR, um, black, black sweatshirt on, pants, um, I just don’t know if he’s coming back in. I got to go lock my doors.”

Maine Shooting

Robert Card points a gun on Oct. 25 while entering Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office

More than two dozen calls came in between 6:55 p.m. and 7:07 p.m. reporting the shooting at the bowling alley. Multiple times dispatchers picked up calls but could not get anyone on the other end of the phone to speak – it’s unclear whether these callers got disconnected or were injured. One may have been Tricia Asselin, who loved ones say died while trying to call 911.

Many callers mentioned being with one or more children, who had gathered at Just-in-Time for a youth bowling night.

“I have a kid. He’s bleeding,” one caller said. “He’s been shot in the arm. He needs (inaudible).”

“I was next to the office so I grabbed my 4-year-old and ran,” said another. Like many in the bowling alley, the caller had fled outside after the shooting began. A dispatcher promised help would arrive soon.


“It’s so quiet out there,” the caller said.


Police have said off-duty officers arrived at the bowling alley within minutes, but Card already had fled and was on his way to Schemengees.

At 7:03 p.m., a call between two dispatchers shows they were advising all hospitals to brace for mass casualties. “We have six to eight victims so far.”

Lewiston Mass Shooting 911 Transcripts by Maine Trust For Local News on Scribd

But just as police were starting to get a handle on the situation at the bowling alley, a new wave of calls flooded in from the bar.


At 7:07 p.m., a caller reports a shooter at Schemengees, then begins whispering something inaudible, as though he’s hiding from the shooter.

“Do you see what he is wearing?” a dispatcher asks him. “Sir?” The call ends there.

At the same time, a man calls 911 from his watch. He’s hiding under a pool table with a man who’s been shot. It’s too dark to tell where he’s bleeding from, the caller says.

Ryan Dalessandro and others at Schemengees that night have said they hid under the pool tables, watching the gunman’s feet and a green laser flashing around as he pointed his semi-automatic rifle.

A number of calls came from people who made it out of the bar and hid in a ditch and field nearby.

At 7:07 p.m., a caller says he’s in the field hiding with a man who had just realized he had been shot in the arm.


“He just noticed it. I think he’s in shock. It doesn’t seem like it’s pouring out but you can see blood,” the caller said.

When the dispatcher asked how old the man was, the caller said, “Um, it looks like he’s in at least his thirties. I think he’s deaf.”

Four members of the Deaf community were killed and five others were injured when Card opened fire at Schemengees.

Others remained hidden inside the restaurant, where someone had cut the lights to make things difficult on the shooter. One caller said he was sitting in the dark inside a utility room – likely the same space where Joyce Michaud told the Press Herald she’d huddled together with a small group “like little mice.”

At 7:12 p.m., a caller from the bar said, “We’ve all been shot.”

At both shooting locations, witnesses and victims remained hidden well after Card fled because they didn’t know they were safe. At 7:45 p.m., a caller told dispatchers that they’d received a message from a friend who was stranded in a field by Schemengees with a group that included wounded.


“In river field north of Schemengees,” the message read. “Please, please send help.”


Over the course of the rest of the evening, shooting victims filled hospital beds in Lewiston while other witnesses gathered in the Lewiston Armory to be interviewed by police, witnesses have said. But even as the timeline of the shootings became clearer, Card’s whereabouts remained a mystery.

After police discovered Card’s abandoned Subaru near a boat launch in Lisbon, officials spent two days searching for the shooter as rumors and theories circulated online. More than 800 tips and leads flooded 911 centers during the manhunt, Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre told the Sun Journal in November. Those tips sent authorities to the home of Card’s ex-girlfriend, to Monmouth and back to Lewiston, St. Pierre said.

Police use a remote submersible to search the Sabattus River by the Miller Park boat launch – where Robert Card ditched his car after the Lewiston mass shootings – on Oct. 27 in Lisbon Falls. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal, file

Meanwhile, Card continued to evade police near an obvious site of interest: the grounds of an ex-employer.

After Card was found dead in a trailer at his former workplace in Lisbon, questions swirled about why it took authorities days to find the mass killer.

But the new transcripts – which end with the call at 8:57 p.m. identifying Card as the shooter – do not provide a comprehensive account of how police were driven away from Card’s last known location at the Lisbon boat launch, where he ditched his car and a long gun.

The independent commission appointed by Gov. Janet Mills has set out to answer those questions but has met only once. A second meeting was delayed and has yet to be rescheduled.

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