LEWISTON — More shots were fired downtown Friday and witnesses said it came to a halt only when a machine-gun-style weapon jammed and the shooter fled.
Nobody was struck by gunfire but by the time it was over, bullets had punched holes in the side of a nearby apartment building. Three men were captured and later arrested.
It happened on Horton Street at about 5:30 p.m. Witnesses said several shots — possibly more than a dozen — were fired by a man who stood in the street, firing first in the air and then at a group of people who were running away.
One man who lives in an apartment near the scene said a fight between two groups of people led to the shots. One group of men had jumped a smaller group, he said, and then an all-out brawl began in the street.
Soon after, a tall, skinny man pulled out a Mac-10 and fired into the air, a witness said.
"He just fired over and over straight up in the air," said Bryan Morin, who witnessed the fight. "Then he brought the gun down and started firing down the street."
After the gun jammed, the shooter fled on foot, witnesses said, leaving his sandals behind in the street. One woman said she watched him scale a fence in his bare feet as he fled.
Several police officers arrived and found the gun at the scene. They believe another gun was also involved but by early Saturday, it had not been found.
Minutes after the shots were fired, police began looking for a car seen being driven away from Horton Street. A short time later, a police officer spotted the car, a blue Dodge Charger, and followed it into the parking lot at Elizabeth Ann, a convenience store at Sabattus Street and East Avenue.
"Officer Brian Beauparlant came right in behind the car and he got them out of there at gunpoint," a store clerk said.
Two men were removed from the car and taken into custody, police said. Another man was found back in the area of Horton Street and also was taken to the police station.
The three men, all from Lewiston, were arrested after questioning.
Kareem Johnson, 28, and Robert Buck, 22, were charged with reckless conduct. Johnson lists a North Carolina address, but police say he had been living in Lewiston.
Nijie Bradley, 22, was arrested on a probation hold as part of the investigation, police said. The three men were taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.
On Horton Street, it was chaos in the minutes following the shooting. More than 100 people watched from sidewalks, windows and front porches as police sorted out the scene.
One apartment house sustained damage from bullet holes on the second and third floors, police said.
It was the third shooting incident in a week in downtown Lewiston.
"Auburn is looking better and better all the time," one woman said.
One man at the scene said he was on Horton Street looking for an apartment to rent when the shots were fired. He'll probably look elsewhere, the man said.
Police were questioning the suspects, as well as several witnesses, and could not say exactly what motivated the fight and the subsequent shots.