Suspect in the Maine mass shooting has been found dead, police say
Updated October 27, 2023 at 11:51 PM ET
LEWISTON, Maine — The suspected perpetrator of this week's mass shooting in Maine has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities announced Friday.
Robert Card, 40, was the sole suspect in the fatal attack at a Lewiston bowling alley and bar on Wednesday that left 18 people dead and 13 others wounded.
The announcement late Friday night capped a two-day manhunt that forced residents to shelter in place and businesses and government offices to temporarily close as state and federal law enforcement agencies scoured several towns for the alleged killer.
"Like many people, I'm breathing a sigh of relief tonight knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone," Maine Gov. Janet Mills said at a late-night press conference. "I know there are some people — many people — who share that sentiment, but I also know that his death may not bring solace to many. But now is a time to heal."
Mills thanked first responders and said she informed President Biden and other federal elected officials that the suspect had been found dead.
"Lewiston is a special place. This isn't us," Mills added. "It's a close-knit community of fine people, people with a long history, a history of hard work, of persistence, of faith, of opening its big heart to people everywhere."
Mike Sauschuck, commissioner for the state's Department of Public Safety, said Card's body was located in Lisbon Falls near the Androscoggin River.
President Biden issued a statement following news of Card's death, calling it a "tragic two days" for Lewiston and the entire country.
"Numerous brave law enforcement officers have worked around the clock to find this suspect and prevent the loss of more innocent life – all while risking their own. They are the best of us," Biden said.
"Tonight we're grateful that Lewiston and surrounding communities are safe after spending excruciating days hiding in their homes."
The families of all 18 victims have been notified. The office of Maine's chief medical examiner said the youngest victim, Aaron Young, was 14 and the oldest, Robert E. Violette, was 76.
An "all-out" search for Card had put the area on pause
A shelter-in-place order in Lewiston and the surrounding area had been lifted earlier in the evening Friday as law enforcement continued to search for Card.
Authorities said after finding Card's body that they were lifting previously instated prohibitions on hunting in four towns, including Lewiston.
Authorities had described Card as armed and dangerous, and had asked residents not to approach him. They encouraged people to report anything suspicious to 911 and share any potential evidence through a digital tip line.
Earlier Friday, investigators continued to search Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-in-Time Recreation to recover all available evidence.
As part of that effort, law enforcement officers were drafting affidavits for digital media, including phones and computers. Sauschuck had said police were investigating 3,500-plus tips and leads from around the community, noting that their credibility "varies greatly."
Officials used a large poster of various aerial maps to highlight areas that investigators planned to search, though they stressed that the four locations on display were not an exhaustive list.
"It's not meant to be secretive," Sauschuck said. "We'll be all over the place."
Alongside a boat launch in Lisbon near where Card's white Subaru was found, teams of divers from multiple states planned to use sonar and other technologies to check the Androscoggin River for evidence.
Brookfield Power, the company that operates two dams on the river, had slowed currents to help with the search, Sauschuck said.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's First District — which is next to Lewiston — in Congress, told Morning Edition early Friday that the search for Card was "all-out," involving more than 300 law enforcement officers from across the country.
She spoke with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday about federal officers being sent into the area, which she said included the team that helped locate the Boston Marathon bomber (after a four-day manhunt in 2013).
Pingree said those on the ground included a mix of traditional, small-town police who are used to being in the woods looking for lost hikers and hunters, as well as "the serious professionals from out of town who unfortunately are used to these kinds of searches."
Maine is the most-forested state in the nation, Pingree pointed out. It is home to some 17.7 million acres of forest.
"It's an easy place to be lost in the woods, and it's a hard place to find somebody," she said.
Questions remain about Card's motive and mental health
Authorities had said they believed Card to be armed. Surveillance video from the night of the shooting appears to show Card holding a semiautomatic rifle.
It's not clear how he gained possession of the weapon, a question on the minds of many in light of reports that he had recently been dealing with mental health issues.
Card, an Army reservist, was at a National Guard training facility in New York over the summer when officials there became concerned about his erratic behavior. They called the police and transported him to a hospital for evaluation, though it's not clear what, if any, treatment he received.
Authorities earlier Friday declined to say whether law enforcement had been notified of warnings about Card's behavior that would have triggered Maine's "yellow flag" law. They also declined to say whether Card's family was cooperating with the investigation.
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