Chad Vincent was in the fifth frame of his weekly bowling league game at Just-In-Time Recreation on Wednesday night when he heard a loud sound.
“I thought it was, like, a table crashing on the floor or something,” he said. “Nobody really screamed. Nobody knew what it was.”
But then, perhaps five seconds later, came another bang: “One of my bowling partners said, ‘Hey, that’s a gun! That’s gunshots!’”
Mr. Vincent, 45, ran toward the back exit. As he was escaping, he called 911.
He and most other members of the league made it out of the building and through the woods to an Italian restaurant, Mr. Vincent said. They locked themselves in for maybe five to 10 minutes before their loved ones started arriving to pick them up.
Mr. Vincent said he felt lucky to have been playing in Lanes 1 and 2, the farthest ones from the front door. There were 30 to 50 other bowlers in the alley, he estimated, in addition to about 26 people from the league. Among those playing on Wednesday night were some children, perhaps teenagers, he said.
He said he knew at least three of the seven people who the authorities have said were killed at the bowling alley. One was a woman who was in the league and also worked behind the bowling alley’s front counter. Another was a man whom he heard had tried to charge the gunman.
“Everybody out front took the brunt” of the attack, said Mr. Vincent, a self-employed contractor who lives in Auburn, just across the river from Lewiston.
As he and others fled the scene, he said, they were in disbelief.
“We’re going: ‘This is Maine,’” he said. “This is not happening. This stuff doesn’t happen in Maine. Everybody’s nice. We usually don’t have problems.”