Gunman kills at least 22 in U.S. state of Maine, police hunt killer

The latest mass shooting to afflict the U.S. claimed about two dozen lives and left more than 50 others wounded Wednesday night, sending a small New England town into terror.

The carnage in Lewiston, Maine, began around 7 p.m. (00:00GMT) when the first of at least three shooting attacks was reported.

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, at least 22 were reported dead.

A manhunt involving hundreds of officers was underway late Wednesday, Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said at a news conference.

Cops first received calls about a shooter at a bowling alley, the Sun Journal reported.

A short time later, another shooting struck a nearby bar and grill.

A children’s event was happening at the bowling alley at the time of the violence, Lewiston Councilor Robert McCarthy told CNN.

Maine State Police urged residents to shelter in their places following reports of an active shooter in multiple locations.

“Please stay inside your home with the doors locked,” they wrote on social media.

“Law enforcement is currently investigating at two locations right now.

“Again please stay off the streets and allow law enforcement to diffuse the situation.’’

A third shooting was reported at a Walmart Distribution Centre shortly after 8 p.m.

The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office posted a photo online of a suspect with an assault rifle wearing cargo pants and pointing a weapon.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Boston was assisting the response, while local cops named a 40-year-old man as a person of interest in the mass shooting.

At the late Wednesday news conference, Sauschuck stopped short of calling him a suspect or providing any details about him. (dpa/NAN)