LEWISTON, MAINE (WTNH) – A Bates College student from Connecticut spoke with News 8 about her experience during an on-campus lockdown in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
Eighteen people were killed, and 13 were wounded in shootings at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar and Grille.
Authorities have identified the suspected gunman as 40-year-old Robert Card of Maine. He has not yet been located, and a manhunt is underway.
The Bates College campus is near Just-In-Time Recreation, which is the location where the first shooting happened.
“It started at like 8 p.m., we heard that they issued, I don’t even know if they called it a lockdown at that point, they just said stay put and don’t go anywhere,” said Caitlin Chan, the captain of the girls’ hockey team.
Chan said the girls’ hockey team had just returned from the ice rink when the shooting happened.
“We sat back down in the commons all trying to figure out what was going on, it was all very hectic, and we were sensing a lot of the underclassmen were nervous because obviously this is a situation none of us of been in,” Chan said.
Students could hear helicopters flying over the campus searching for the shooter, as police issued a lockdown for the entire city of Lewiston.
Chan said Bates College did not want students moving around the campus, so they were locked down in the cafeteria.
“Like [by] hour two or three, we were like, it looks like we’re going to be sleeping here. I think as we heard the number of people that were getting seriously hurt and injured and not making it, we’re like, this is really a serious situation. All of the blinds were shut, and we mostly tried to stay to the back of the second-floor dining area. There were some people in the classrooms who found tablecloths and were using them as blankets and pillows.”
The students tried to stay updated on the active shooter by watching the news.
“I think from 8 p.m. to 7. a.m., a lot of people ended up sleeping on the floor, sleeping on a table, sleeping in chairs,” Chan said.
She said she shared a cellphone charger with seven or eight other students overnight as they tried to check in with their loved ones.
“There was a very anxious energy, making sure to check in with all my teammates and all other students I know on campus. I think it’s definitely really upsetting to a lot of people, but a lot of people, I think, are trying to stay strong,” she said.
As police continued their search, students continued the lockdown back in their dorm rooms.
“I’ve tried not to look outside my windows; blinds are down. But when I have taken a peek, it’s totally empty, no cars, nobody in the streets, and usually campus is very much alive during the day,” Chan said.
Chan says classes have been canceled until further notice.
Two other Bates College students shared their experience on Friday
Two Bates College students, Evan Migdole from Westbrook and Luke Singer from West Hartford, also spent Wednesday night in lockdown on campus.
The two boys said they were on campus when the mass shooting happened nearby. They hid in the basement of the library all night, but weren’t able to get much sleep.
“We went to the basement, in like some viewing room, just tried to shut the lights off, didn’t get much sleep,” Singer said. “Just brain’s kind of wired, stressful night.”
“We were watching the news just trying to figure out where he could be,” Migdole said.
The next morning, the boys said walked back to their dorm rooms and began driving an hour north to stay with a friend while the manhunt ensued.
“It’s tough to want to stay on campus in a situtaion like that and its tough to feel safe on campus,” Migdole said.
Despite having lockdown drills in school, Singer said they didn’t compare to the real situation he experienced.
“We’ve kind of practiced this in public school just like lockdowns every year but it just doesnt even amount to the real situation,” Singer said.
In the meantime, the boys said they are planning to wait it out away from campus and they hope the suspect will be located soon.