6/6 © Reuters. Police forces surround a home in Bowdoin as they search for the suspect in the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, USA, October 26, 2023. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 2/6
By Gabriella Borter
LEWISTON, Maine (Reuters) – The man suspected of killing 18 people and wounding 13 in a shooting spree in Lewiston, Maine, was found dead on Friday from a likely self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending a 48-hour manhunt, the most followed deadliest episode of gun violence in the state’s history.
The body of 40-year-old Robert R. Card was discovered in the woods near the neighboring town of Lisbon Falls, near where police found his abandoned vehicle shortly after Wednesday night’s shooting.
“He’s dead,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said at a news conference, thanking the hundreds of officers from multiple agencies involved in the search.
“Like many people, I breathe a sigh of relief tonight knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone… Now is the time to heal,” Mills said.
Card died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Mike Sauschuck, commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Officials said the U.S. Army reservist opened fire on his victims Wednesday evening, first at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and minutes later at the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, where beanbag tossing games were taking place.
Officials did not provide any information about a suspected motive.
The shootings and lengthy manhunt shook the normally bustling but quiet community of Lewiston, a former textile center and the second-largest city in Maine.
Earlier Friday, Maine State Police lifted an order that had kept tens of thousands of people in their homes while the manhunt continued.
The city lies on the banks of the Androscoggin River about 35 miles (56 km) north of the state’s largest city, Portland, and almost as southwest of Maine’s capital, Augusta.
Card, an Army Reserve sergeant from the nearby town of Bowdoin, was described by authorities as a trained firearms instructor who served as a petroleum supply specialist while serving at the Army Reserve base in Saco, Maine.
Police officials also said he had a history of mental illness and was admitted to a psychiatric facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023, after which he was released.
Just hours after Wednesday night’s bloodshed, police distributed surveillance camera photos from one of the crime scenes of a bearded man wearing a brown hoodie and jeans and carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.
The first trail of clues led to the town of Lisbon, about seven miles southeast of Lewiston, where Maine State Police found a white SUV they believed Card had used to escape parked at a boat dock on the river was. Public records showed he owned at least one vessel from Sea-Doo, a company known for its jet ski-style personal watercraft.
Lisbon Falls, where the body was found, is the nearest town, still on the river.
As part of their search for Card, police on Friday scoured the waters of the Androscoggin River using divers and sonar and sent teams of officers door-to-door to conduct neighborhood surveys to search for additional leads and possible eyewitnesses.
VICTIMS IDENTIFIED AND HONORED
Authorities also officially announced the names and ages of the victims for the first time, revealing that a cross-section of Lewiston people had been killed, including deaf people participating in the beanbag throwing tournament, a father-son bowling pair, etc aged 76 and 73.
Four of those killed were members of the deaf community, Sauschuck said, asking television cameras to include the American Sign Language interpreter in their footage at a news conference. Nine deaf people played in a weekly tournament in Schemengees, the sister of one of the victims told the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Among them was Joshua Seal, 36, the director of interpretive services for the Pine Tree Society, a nonprofit that supports people with disabilities, the Sun Journal reported, citing Noel Sullivan, the group’s president. Sullivan said Seal provided essential interpreting services for people isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stephen Vozella, 45, is a postal worker and an active member of New England Deaf Cornhole, the group said on its Facebook page (NASDAQ:), adding that there will be a moment of silence at an upcoming tournament.
Bryan MacFarlane, 41, an avid motorcyclist, was also part of the Schemengees cornhole tournament, his sister Keri Brooks told the Sun Journal.
Bill Young, 44, and his 14-year-old son Aaron were shot while bowling together, Bill’s brother Rob Young told Reuters.
Husband and wife Bob Violette, 76, and Lucille Violette, 73, were also playing in a couples league together when they were killed, the Sun Journal reported, citing his daughter-in-law Cassandra Violette.
Tricia Asselin, 53, was a part-time worker at the bowling alley and was trying to call 911 when she was shot. Joseph Walker, 57, was a manager at Schemengees who remained on site to help even though he could have escaped through a door near his office, his father Leroy Walker told Reuters on Friday.
“We were told that he picked up a butcher knife from the bar area where he had been standing most of the time and went to attack the shooter,” Leroy Walker said of his son, whom he called Joey. The gunman then shot Joey, killing him instantly.
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