Suspect in the Maine mass shooting has been found dead, police say
Updated October 27, 2023 at 3:50 PM ET
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Residents of Lewiston, Maine and the surrounding area are on their second full day of sheltering in place as law enforcement continues searching for the man suspected of fatally shooting 18 people and wounding 13 others at a bowling alley and restaurant on Wednesday night.
The office of Maine's Chief Medical Examiner confirmed in an email to Maine Publicthat all 18 people who were killed have been identified. The office said the youngest victim was 14 and the oldest was 76, but that it could not yet share any additional information.
Authorities describe 40-year-old Robert Card as armed and dangerous, and are asking residents not to approach him. They are encouraging people to report anything suspicious to 911 and share any potential evidence through a digital tip line.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the country are working "literally around the clock" to try to apprehend Card and keep the community safe, Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre said at a Friday morning briefing.
He urged residents to be patient, emphasizing that "there are many, many moving parts and coordination of efforts involved with multiple agencies."
Investigators are continuing to search Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-in-Time Recreation to recover all available evidence, said Mike Sauschuck, commissioner for the state's Department of Public Safety.
As part of that effort, law enforcement officers are also drafting affidavits for digital media, including phones and computers. Sauschuck said police are investigating 3,500-plus tips and leads from around the community, noting that their credibility "varies greatly."
Teams are physically searching multiple locations for evidence that might lead them to Card, with Sauschuck stressing that investigators have "many irons in the fire." One emerging focus of those efforts is the area near a boat launch where officials found a vehicle registered in Card's name.
More than 36 hours after the shootings, authorities appear to be settling in for the long haul, telling reporters that they plan to hold briefings every morning and some afternoons as needed. Sauschuck acknowledged that the clock is ticking.
"I think that every minute that this goes on we're more and more concerned, because what's the next thing that's gonna happen?" he said. "And we understand that, and that's why we're working 24/7 to try to bring this individual to justice and try to bring some closure and overall safety to our community."
But he also expressed confidence that law enforcement can do that.
"There's no question in my mind we'll bring this individual into custody, one way or the other," he added.
Divers will search the river near where Card's car was found
Officials used a large poster of various aerial maps to highlight areas that investigators will be searching on Friday, though stressed that the four locations on display were by no means an exhaustive list.
"It's not mean to be secretive," Sauschuck said. "We'll be all over the place."
One focus area for Friday is the area surrounding the Lisbon boat launch where Card's white Subaru was found.
Sauschuck said teams of divers from multiple states will use sonar and other technologies to check the Androscoggin River for evidence, including "potential bodies." Still, he stressed that investigators do not have firm evidence to suggest the suspect's body is in the river.
Helicopters will fly above the river to identify which areas divers should focus on, based on visibility.
He added that Brookfield Power, the company that operates two dams on the river, is cooperating with investigators and slowing the currents to help with the search.
Ssauschuck said he can envision teams eventually moving inland and to the land on the other side of the river to conduct ground searches. In the meantime, there will also be a "line search" in the area near the boat launch of officers looking for evidence along the shoreline.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's First District — which is next to Lewiston — in Congress, told Morning Edition that the search for Card is "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 the federal officers being sent into the area, which she says include the team that helped locate the Boston Marathon bomber (after a four-day manhunt in 2013).
Pingree says those on the ground include 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 points 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 says.
Those efforts may be further complicated by the start of deer hunting season on Saturday. Sauschuck said investigators are corresponding with local leaders to figure out how to safeguard woodsy search sites from hunters.
Questions remain about Card's motive and mental health
Lewiston and the surrounding area remains under shelter-in-place orders as the search continues. School districts and many local businesses are closed.
Pingree said much of the state is on pause, out of both fear and grief.
"There's nothing more frightening than the idea that someone is out there who's already done a mass killing and still possesses weapons," she said.
Authorities say they believe Card to be armed, though have not offered specifics. 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 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 on 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.
Authorities caution against making assumptions
Law enforcement officers swarmed the perimeter of Card's home in Bowdoin on Thursday night, surveilling the property with drones and blaring warnings through a bullhorn over the course of some two hours.
As the house came under intense media focus, public safety officials clarified that they did not know for sure whether Card was in the house, but that loudspeaker announcements are standard when executing search warrants.
Sauschuck reiterated on Friday that just because teams are at a particular location doesn't mean they expect Card to be there too, but they approach those situations as if he could be.
Sauschuck said it's standard operating procedure and best practice to give notifications before executing search warrants.
And he sought to temper expectations that any police activity noted in the area should be taken as a sign of hope. If a helicopter is hovering over a building, for example, it doesn't mean the suspect is inside, he said.
"There's a lot of stuff going on here, but what matters to us is the safety of our community, the safety of our residents. We care about each and every one of them," Sauschuck said.
"We're going to continue to fight on their behalf to bring this individual to justice because we know that has an impact on starting the healing process."
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