A massive manhunt was launched in multiple states on Thursday as authorities sought to apprehend an Army reservist believed to be responsible for a devastating massacre in a community in Maine, resulting in the tragic loss of 18 lives.
Maine Governor Janet Mills announced that Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist who was initially considered a person of interest in the Lewiston shootings, is now a murder suspect. The shooting rampage, which occurred on Wednesday, also left 13 individuals injured.
At a press conference, Governor Mills emphasized the dangerous nature of Card, stating, “Mr. Card is considered armed and dangerous,” and urged the public not to approach him under any circumstances.
The search for Card was a collaborative effort involving hundreds of investigators and officers from various law enforcement agencies along the Eastern Seaboard, including the FBI, U.S. Marshals, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well as police departments from Boston to New York City.
Lewiston, along with nearby towns Lisbon and Bowdoin, remained under a shelter-in-place order. Card hails from Bowdoin, and the police expanded their search into the surrounding wooded and rural areas of the community.
This shocking incident stands in stark contrast to the low homicide rate in Maine, which recorded just 29 homicides throughout the entire previous year, according to state records.
Governor Mills expressed the gravity of the situation, stating, “This attack strikes at the very heart of who we are.” She revealed that she had discussed the unfolding tragedy with President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet, underlining that it was a dark day for Maine.
Maine State Police Col. William Ross revealed that they were in the “early stages of a homicide investigation” and that a vehicle connected to Card had been located at a boat landing in Lisbon, around 8 miles southeast of Lewiston. Ross also mentioned an existing arrest warrant for eight counts of murder against Card, with the potential for an increase in the count as the remaining victims are officially identified.
Despite the extensive search, authorities had not determined Card’s exact location at that time. A note found at the suspect’s residence during a warranted search was under investigation, offering a potential lead in the case.
Experts in law enforcement, such as Robert J. Louden, a professor emeritus of criminal justice, outlined multiple scenarios, including Card taking his own life, fleeing via a waterway, escaping in another vehicle, or hiding in the nearby woods.
Lewiston, home to Bates College, had been under lockdown since the shootings were first reported. Residents and students expressed their fear and concern during this tumultuous time.
The community was deeply shaken, with residents taking precautions and arming themselves for protection. Card, an Army reservist with no combat experience, was described as knowledgeable about warfare and had reportedly exhibited concerning behavior, including mental health issues and threats.
Card was armed with an AR-15-style rifle when he allegedly carried out the shooting spree, resulting in the deaths of multiple individuals at the Just-In-Time bowling alley and Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston. The timeline of the tragic events was outlined, with the initial reports of the massacre coming in at 6:56 p.m. Wednesday.
Despite Card’s recent history of mental health concerns, he had legally acquired the weapon believed to have been used in the shooting.
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The tragedy prompted national and local responses, with President Biden ordering flags at federal installations to be lowered to half-staff in memory of the victims. Governor Mills made a similar proclamation for the state, and L.L. Bean announced the temporary closure of its facilities to honor the victims.