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Police officers speak with a motorist at a roadblock in Lisbon, Maine Alamy Stock Photo
Lewiston

US police struggle to find man who killed 18 people in mass shooting in Maine town

Governor Janet Mills said the suspect was “considered armed and dangerous”.

LAST UPDATE | 27 Oct 2023

POLICE IN MAINE have struggled for a second day to catch a man who gunned down 18 people with a semi-automatic rifle in a bowling alley and a bar in a town where locals were enjoying an evening out.

In Lewiston, a city in the mostly rural north-eastern state, there was an atmosphere of dread and bewilderment as residents waited indoors, while authorities erected roadblocks and ordered schools and businesses to stay closed.

Robert Card, 40, is accused of being the man seen on security cameras walking into a Lewiston bowling alley on Wednesday evening and launching the country’s deadliest mass shooting of the year so far. In addition to the 18 murdered at the bowling venue and later in a bar, the US Army reservist is accused of wounding 13.

There was a brief flurry of excitement yesterday when dozens of heavily armed officers, backed by armored vehicles and a helicopter, surrounded the Card family home in Bowdoin, near Lewiston.

State police warned “please come outside” and “we don’t want anyone to get hurt” over a loudspeaker.

However, Card was not inside and police left empty handed to continue the hunt.

Today, investigators were combing the riverbank and stretch of water where Card’s car was found at a boat launch site, Mike Sauschuck, commissioner for Maine’s department of public safety, told reporters during a press conference shortly after 3pm. 

He showed reporters maps of the riverbank area where intensive search efforts are ongoing. 

sauschuck Sauschuck speaking to reporters at the press conference.

Sauschuck was questioned on the possibility of the suspect having killed himself. 

He said that police still “don’t have him located”, and that there are a few “options on the table” as to what has happened. 

Divers are being deployed to the Lisbon boat launch area where Card’s car was found. 

Sauschuck said that the divers will be looking for evidence and “potential bodies”. 

But there was no indication that the police were any closer to finding the man that Maine Governor Janet Mills said remained armed and dangerous.

Around 530 tips and leads have come in to investigating police from the public. 

Sauschuck said that members of the community are struggling to “fathom” how the shooting happened. 

a-sign-advises-residents-to-stay-home-thursday-oct-26-2023-following-a-mass-shooting-at-a-restaurant-and-a-bowling-alley-in-lewiston-maine-police-continue-to-search-for-the-suspect-ap-photor A sign advises residents to stay home following a mass shooting at a restaurant and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

He added that investigators and local police are working around the clock on the operation, and that news briefings on their progress will now take place at 10am each morning. 

“Uneasy,” Lewiston resident Jeremy Hiltz said when asked how he felt. “It’s a small community. When something like this happens, everybody knows somebody” affected.

One longtime neighbor in Bowdoin, Dave Letarte, said news of the shooting “floored me.”

Card is an army reservist, but had not been deployed in any combat zone. US media reported that he had recently been sent for psychiatric treatment after he said he was hearing voices.

This latest shooting is one of the deadliest in the United States since 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowded music festival in Las Vegas, killing 60 people.

The country has recorded at least 565 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nongovernmental organization that defines a mass shooting as four or more people wounded or killed.

President Joe Biden called Maine’s governor to offer federal support, and ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at the White House and all government buildings.

Biden added that the gun violence that plagues the United States “is not normal, and we cannot accept it,” urging lawmakers to pass a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

A Maine Democrat who holds a seat in the US House of Representatives, Jared Golden, said he regretted his previous opposition to new laws.

“I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war, like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime,” Golden said yesterday.

“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”

Republicans oppose new gun laws

But in a reminder that Congress will not be considering stronger gun ownership laws anytime soon, the newly installed Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, told Fox News that the reason for so many mass shootings in the United States “is the human heart, not guns.”

The shooting is one of the deadliest in the United States since 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowded music festival in Las Vegas, killing 60 people.

© AFP 2023

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