June 13th, 2024

Maine officials lift shelter-in-place order as search for mass shooting suspect continues

By David Sharp, Patrick Whittle, Holly Ramer And Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press on October 27, 2023.

A woman is hugged by a man at a reunification center at Auburn Middle School, in Auburn, Maine, after shootings in Lewiston on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via AP)

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) – Authorities scoured the woods and hundreds of acres of family-owned property, sent dive teams with sonar to the bottom of a river and scrutinized a possible suicide note Friday in the second day of their intensive search for an Army reservist accused of fatally shooting 18 people and wounding 13 at a bowling alley and a bar in Maine.

Authorities lifted their shelter in place order Friday evening, nearly 48 hours after the shootings.

The names and pictures of the 16 males and 2 females who died were released as State Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck asked for a moment of silence at a news conference. Their ages ranged from 14 to 76.

Law enforcement officials said they have not seen suspect Robert Card since his vehicle was left at a boat ramp Wednesday shortly after the shootings. Sauschuck didn’t say if they have any indication if Card is alive or dead, only that investigators are leaving all their options open.

“We’re going to be all over the place,” Sauschuck said. “That’s not saying that we know that the individual is in this house, you know, in that house or they’re in that swath of land, this acreage.”

Authorities say Card, 40, who has firearms training, opened fire at the bar and a bowling alley Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Bowdoin.

Police and other law enforcement officers were spotted in several areas around the region on Friday. Divers searched the water near a boat launch in Lisbon, and a farming business in the same town. At points throughout the day, police vehicles were seen speeding through several towns, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

A gun was found in Card’s car, which was discovered at a boat ramp, and federal agents were testing it to determine if it was used in the shooting, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. Authorities have said publicly that the shooter used at least one rifle. They have not released any other details, including how the suspect obtained the firearm.

Authorities found a suicide note at a home associated with Card on Thursday that was addressed to his son, the law enforcement officials said. They said it didn’t provide any specific motive for the shooting. Authorities also recovered Card’s cellphone in the home, making a search more complicated because authorities routinely use phones to track suspects, the officials said.

Federal agents conducted several searches of properties associated with Card on Thursday, collecting a number of items, including electronics, the officials said. Investigators are also analyzing Card’s financial information and reviewing his social media posts, writings and his mental health history, they said.

The Cards have lived in Bowdoin for generations, neighbors said, and various members of the family own hundreds of acres in the area. The family owned the local sawmill and years ago donated the land for a local church.

“This is his stomping ground,” Richard Goddard, who lives on the road where a search took place on Thursday, said of the suspect. “He knows every ledge to hide behind, every thicket.”

Family members of Card told federal investigators that he had recently discussed hearing voices and became more focused on the bowling alley and bar, according to the law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. When he was hospitalized in July in New York, Card had told military officials he had been hearing voices and said he wanted to harm other soldiers, the officials said.

A neighbor, Dave Letarte, said Card’s family let them deer hunt on their property and were kind, although Letarte said he noticed Card appeared to have mental problems for a while.

“People have problems, but you don’t expect them to go off the deep end like that,” Letarte said.

Police said Thursday that Card would be charged with 18 counts of murder.

The victims of the shootings include Bob Violette, 76, a retiree who was coaching a youth bowling league and was described as devoted, approachable and kind. His wife, Luceille, 73, was also killed. Auburn City Councilor Leroy Walker told news outlets that his son, Joe, a manager at the bar and grill, died going after the shooter with a butcher knife. Peyton Brewer-Ross was a dedicated pipefitter at Bath Iron Works whose death leaves a gaping void in the lives of his partner, young daughter and friends, members of his union said.

The manager of the youth bowling league vowed that the league would survive despite the devastating grief members were feeling.

The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf said the shootings killed at least four members of their community, many of whom were ardent advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.

While the shelter in place order was lifted, authorities did ban hunting in Lewiston and three nearby towns on Saturday, which is “Maine Resident Only Day” and serves as the kickoff to the busiest stretch of the state’s popular deer hunting season.

Sauschuck asked residents around the state to use their common sense when they heard gunshots and not assume it was part of the search for Card.

Schools, public buildings and many businesses remained closed Friday. Bates College in Lewiston canceled classes and postponed the inauguration of the school’s first Black president.

In nearby Sabattus, cashiers at a gas station told their customers to “have a good day and go home.”

The attacks stunned a state of only 1.3 million people that has one of the country’s lowest homicide rates: 29 killings in all of 2022.

Police were sorting through at least 530 tips since the shootings. Crime scene technicians were still gathering evidence at the bar and bowling alley. Dozens of officers spent Thursday at Card family land. After several hours they left with state police saying it was unclear whether the suspect had ever been at the location.

The shootings mark the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.

___

Ramer reported from Concord, New Hampshire, Whittle from Portland, Maine, and Smith from Bowdoin, Maine. Associated Press journalists Jake Bleiberg in Portland; Robert Bukaty and Robert Bumsted in Lewiston; David R. Martin in Bowdoin; Michael Balsamo in New York; Darlene Superville and Lolita Baldor in Washington, D.C.; Michael Casey in Boston; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, and Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Share this story:

29
-28
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments