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Search continues for a person of interest in a pair of mass shootings in Maine


Last night in Lewiston, Maine, a man armed with an AR-15-style rifle opened fire at two local gathering spots, a bowling alley and a bar and grill. It's still not clear just how many people were killed and injured in that shooting spree. Later that night, members of the community gathered at a middle school in nearby Auburn, Maine, in a ritual that's become all too familiar - waiting to figure out what happened to loved ones. Jason Levesque is mayor of the town of Auburn, the sister city of Lewiston. He's taken on the job of reunifying families and providing support to those families gathered at Auburn Middle School. And he is with us now. Mr. Mayor, welcome. I'm so sorry about why we're talking but thank you for speaking with us.

JASON LEVESQUE: Good morning, and thank you for that.

MARTIN: So, as I just said, many of the details of this terrible event are still unclear, and we don't expect you to give us details that aren't yet official. But would you just give us a sense of what's life like in Auburn, Maine, this morning?

LEVESQUE: It's eerily quiet and filled with darkness and sadness. I mean, we have a shelter-in-place order right now going on throughout the county, actually. Schools are canceled, and there are very, very few cars on the road. And there's a heavy law enforcement presence throughout the area, as anticipated.

MARTIN: So what are people supposed to do if they are worried about what happened to someone? If they're trying to keep up with someone, is there - do they just go to the middle school and wait? Or how is that being handled?

LEVESQUE: No. I mean, at this point, the notifications are ongoing. The reunifications have finished. If you're worried, do not come to the middle school with the hope of finding news. You know, stay tight. Stay at home. That's the most important thing right now. We still have an active investigation with a suspect on the loose. And we have to understand that's a priority at this point, bringing this individual into custody and hopefully very swiftly and severely. And then we can worry about other things as they manifest.

MARTIN: So look. I know you're an Army veteran, and you've dealt with some things, but as mayor, as - now that you've been, you know, you've been home, you run a local business, you're raising your family there. Have you ever had to deal with anything like this before?

LEVESQUE: Absolutely not. No, not here. I mean, Auburn, Lewiston area, it's a tight community. It's about 60,000 people in a county of about 100,000. You know, the bowling alley's in Lewiston, but it's our bowling alley, right? It's, you know, this is where you go to play cornhole and play pool and have a nice meal. It's one community. And to think that that would happen here - I know that's probably what everybody says that's unfortunately had to go through something like this - it's just surreal.

MARTIN: You know, it's one of those kind of, you know, it's just such a gorgeous area. And this is the time of year when people come up to, you know, to look at the leaves and, you know, people are visiting the colleges in the area and things of that sort. And I'm just thinking, as a public official here, since you've been in office, you were first elected in 2017, do you feel you have to train for something like this? I mean, is this something you've had to been mentally preparing for, or is this just still just so beyond the realm of thinking that something like this could happen?

LEVESQUE: I mean, no amount of training can actually prepare you for a situation like this. OK. Have I thought about it? Yeah. Every mayor thinks about it when we're - when we watch TV and we see something similar to what happened here last night happen in some other part of the country. And we ask ourselves, what would we do in that situation? Well, we've talked about it before, but there's no amount of talk, training, observation that can prepare you for this. And the only thing I have to say is, you know, will get your strength from your community, and law enforcement professionals who do train and have been, you know, acting extremely professionally and efficiently through this. So, you know, we all will get strength from each other.

MARTIN: Jason Levesque is the mayor of the town of Auburn. It's the sister city of Lewiston. And this morning, the community is dealing with the aftermath of that mass shooting in nearby Lewiston. Mr. Mayor, I do wish you and all of your folks the best and be well. Thank you for talking with us.

LEVESQUE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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