A suspect is being sought for the murder of 18 individuals and injury of 13 others in two separate shootings in Maine. Arrest warrants have been issued for multiple counts of murder by authorities on Thursday.
Authorities identified the suspect in the deadly incident at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston as 40-year-old Robert Card. Card, a reservist in the army and a firearms instructor, has a known record of mental health issues and is considered to be armed and potentially dangerous.
The man’s vehicle was found around midnight in Lisbon, approximately 8 miles away from where the murders occurred. Government officials advised people living in the nearby towns and surrounding regions to stay indoors as a large-scale search involving numerous law enforcement officers persisted.
According to Col William Ross of the Maine state police, this person should not be approached. If you encounter this person or someone who resembles them, it is advised to call 911.
The Democratic governor, Janet Mills, stated that the community was still processing and coping with the tragic killings.
“It is a somber day for the state of Maine,” she stated. “The residents of Lewiston are facing immense suffering. I wish I could alleviate the pain in your hearts and lift the weight off your shoulders. But I assure you, we will all support you in carrying this sorrow.”
As loved ones began to identify the first victims, Mills delivered a speech. The family of Bob Violette, a 76-year-old retired mechanic from Sears and enthusiastic bowler, shared a statement with the Portland Press Herald. They stated that Violette was tragically killed while attending a children’s bowling league event and was bravely trying to shield the children under his care.
53-year-old Tricia Asselin was shot while trying to call 911 from the counter in an alleyway, according to her brother DJ Johnson who spoke to CNN. Johnson stated, “She didn’t try to flee. She wanted to assist.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the occurrence happened on Wednesday at approximately 7pm and marks the 565th occurrence of a mass shooting in the US. The archive’s definition of a mass shooting is an event where four or more individuals are injured or killed, not including the perpetrator.
The commissioner of public safety in Maine, Mike Sauschuck, stated that Card had mental health problems and was discharged this summer after a brief stay at a treatment center. Sauschuck also mentioned that Card, who is from Bowdoin and lives about 15 miles east of Lewiston, claimed to hear “voices in his head” and made threats to commit a shooting at a national guard base in Saco.
More information about Card’s past started to come to light. Their profile on X (formerly known as Twitter) was banned by the company, but not before screenshots of them liking and sharing content from far-right individuals began to circulate.
Sauschuck hesitated to provide further information regarding the suspect and how he obtained firearms. According to military records, he enlisted in 2002 as a petroleum supply officer but did not serve overseas. Sources at CNN stated that he was highly proficient in marksmanship.
According to reports, Card’s relatives are collaborating with authorities and have advised him to turn himself in.
President Joe Biden has issued a directive for the lowering of flags at all federal public buildings and overseas locations until sunset on Monday in remembrance of the victims of a tragic and unjust act of violence.
The president issued a statement, urging Republicans to unite with Democrats in implementing gun safety measures, as our country grieves yet another senseless and devastating mass shooting.
We have a responsibility to provide for all Americans who will now carry the physical and emotional wounds from this recent attack.
The incidents occurred at Just-in-Time Recreation, a bowling alley, and at Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant in Lewiston, which is approximately four miles away. Area residents reported that several families and children were present at the alley for a children’s bowling league.
According to Ross, seven individuals, consisting of six males and one female, were fatally shot in the alley. Another eight males were killed at the restaurant. Additionally, three individuals passed away while receiving medical treatment at the hospital. The chief medical officer of Central Maine Healthcare, John Alexander, reported that three of the injured individuals were in critical condition.
Ross stated that eight individuals who were deceased had been identified, leading to the issuance of arrest warrants for eight charges of murder. He also mentioned that the number of identified deceased individuals is expected to increase.
Officials from various federal organizations such as the FBI, ATF, and DHS have arrived in Maine to assist with the search and investigation.
The sheriff of Androscoggin county shared two pictures on Facebook of the alleged perpetrator entering the bowling alley with a raised long weapon. A witness, who goes by the name Brandon, stated that he initially believed the sounds were balloons bursting before quickly seeking shelter.
10-year-old Zoey Levesque, who was accompanied by her mother at the alley, reported to WMTW TV station that she was struck by a bullet.
“It’s frightening,” she expressed. “I never imagined that I would reach adulthood and be shot in the leg. And it’s puzzling, why do individuals engage in such violence?”
The owners of Just-in-Time expressed being “devastated” on Facebook.
Last night, our bowling family and community lost some incredible and devoted individuals. A statement expressed that there are no words that can mend or improve this situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our love to everyone and keep you in our hearts.
Kathy Lebel, one of the owners of Schemengees, reported that an individual entered the establishment and began to shoot. According to Lebel, the staff quickly evacuated the premises.
Lebel expressed to the Sun Journal that the evening spent playing cornhole was unexpected and simply for enjoyment. She continues to feel as though the situation is a terrible dream.
The mayor of Auburn, Jason Levesque, informed NBC that residents believed the loud noises were a Halloween prank at first. However, the situation quickly worsened, causing confusion for many people.
Cellphone footage captured individuals fleeing or being guided to a secure location. Educational institutions, universities, and companies stayed shut down as authorities continued to search for the perpetrator.
Maine has relatively lenient regulations regarding firearms compared to other states in the US. There is no mandatory licensing system in place and no laws that allow authorities to flag individuals who may pose a threat when purchasing guns. The state has a deeply-rooted culture of hunting and recreational shooting. In 2022, there were a total of 29 reported cases of homicide in Maine.
The Associated Press and Northeastern University keep a database that is more specific than the Gun Violence Archive. According to this database, the shooting in Lewiston was the 36th mass killing in the US this year, resulting in 188 deaths in incidents where at least four people were killed.
The report was contributed by The Associated Press.