Tragedy Strikes Maine: The Hunt for the Suspect in the Worst Mass Killing in State History

In a shocking and tragic turn of events, residents of Lewiston, Maine, found themselves living in fear and uncertainty after a horrific mass shooting left 18 people dead and 13 others injured at a local bowling alley and bar. The alleged perpetrator, Robert Card, an Army reservist with firearms instructor training, is now the subject of a massive manhunt by law enforcement agencies. This article delves into the details of the incident, the ongoing search for the suspect, and the impact on the local community.

Hunt for Robert Card After Incident

The search for Robert Card, the man believed to be responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in Maine’s history, entered its second night, leaving residents of the normally peaceful state in shock and fear. Heavily armed police and FBI agents were deployed to locate and apprehend Card, who was considered armed and dangerous.

The Intensive Search Operation

Thursday’s search operations primarily centered around a property belonging to one of Card’s relatives in the rural town of Bowdoin, situated about 15 miles from Lewiston. A fleet of trucks and vans filled with armed agents from various agencies surrounded the home, making repeated calls for Card to surrender.
The unique aspect of this operation was the deliberate and cautious approach taken by law enforcement. Typically, when executing search warrants, officers enter swiftly. However, in this case, after hours of announcements and searching, the authorities retreated from the location, leaving many questions unanswered.
Richard Goddard, a resident of the area, emphasized Card’s familiarity with the terrain, as he grew up in the vicinity. This intimate knowledge of the area could have allowed Card to evade the search efforts.

Widespread Search Efforts

The manhunt for Card extended beyond the Bowdoin property. Several homes were searched, and all leads were diligently pursued. The urgency of the situation was underscored by the fact that Card was a trained firearms instructor, making him particularly dangerous.

The Lewiston Mass Shooting Incident

The tragic events unfolded when Card allegedly opened fire at a bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. The incident took place on a fateful Wednesday evening, claiming the lives of 18 people and leaving 13 others wounded, with three in critical condition.
The authorities have not yet disclosed the specifics of the firearms used in the attack or how Card obtained them. The shock and horror of this event reverberated throughout the region, with schools, doctor’s offices, and grocery stores closing their doors, and residents taking refuge behind locked doors.

Community’s Response On Incident

Residents like April Stevens, who lives in the neighborhood where one of the shootings occurred, were deeply affected by the tragedy. She took precautions to secure her home, knowing people who were both killed and injured in the attacks. The entire community was in mourning, offering prayers and support for the victims and their families.

Maine’s Low Homicide Rate

Maine, a state with a population of only 1.3 million people, has traditionally maintained a low homicide rate, with just 29 homicides recorded in all of 2022. The shocking mass shooting incident was a stark departure from the state’s otherwise peaceful reputation.

The Governor’s Pledge

Maine Governor Janet Mills pledged to do whatever it takes to locate Robert Card and bring him to justice. She expressed her commitment to ensuring that the victims and their families receive full justice. The Governor’s response reflects the gravity of the situation and the need for swift action.

Card’s Troubling Behavior

As authorities intensified their search for Robert Card, details about his recent behavior emerged. In mid-July, Card underwent a mental health evaluation after displaying erratic behavior while with his reserve regiment, as confirmed by a U.S. official. A bulletin circulated to law enforcement agencies nationwide revealed that Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks during the summer due to concerns about hearing voices and threats to carry out violence at a military base.
The revelation of Card’s mental health evaluation raises important questions about the state’s gun laws, as Maine does not require permits to carry firearms. The state has a long-standing culture of gun ownership, deeply rooted in hunting and sport shooting traditions. In 2019, lawmakers passed a “yellow flag” law, which empowers police to seek a medical evaluation of individuals deemed dangerous before taking action to confiscate their firearms. Critics argue that this law is less stringent than the “red flag” laws adopted by many other states.

Community Insights On Incident

Neighbors who knew the Card family, like Dave Letarte, expressed their shock and disbelief at the unfolding tragedy. Letarte acknowledged that Card had exhibited signs of mental health issues, but no one expected such a devastating outcome. The family’s willingness to help the FBI in their search for Card underlines their concern for the situation.

Ongoing Investigations and Warrants on Incident

Authorities took swift action following the mass shooting, issuing eight murder warrants for Card after confirming the identities of eight victims. Ten more warrants are expected to be issued once the remaining victims are identified, according to Maine State Police Col. William Ross.
As for the wounded victims, three were in critical condition, while five were stable but still hospitalized, as reported by officials from Central Maine Medical Center.

The Tragic Evening After Incident

The evening of the attack began at the Just-In-Time Recreation, where a children’s bowling league was in progress just before 7 p.m. Patrick Poulin, whose 15-year-old son participated in the league, was supposed to be at the bowling center that night. However, they decided to stay home, sparing them from the tragic events that unfolded. Poulin estimated that several dozen young bowlers, ranging in age from 4 to 18, were present at the facility, along with their parents. Poulin’s brother, who was at the scene, played a crucial role in guiding some of the children to safety when the shooting began.
Less than 15 minutes later, numerous distress calls flooded in from Schemengees Bar and Grille, located a few miles away.

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The Search Extends to Land and Water

The search for Robert Card was not limited to land; it also encompassed the waterways. The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched a patrol boat along the Kennebec River, conducting an extensive search. However, after hours of searching, nothing unusual was discovered, leaving law enforcement puzzled.
A car believed to belong to Card was found near a boat launch in the town of Lisbon, situated near the Androscoggin River, which connects to the Kennebec River. However, Card’s 15-foot boat remained unaccounted for, further complicating the search efforts.

The Elusive Suspect

In past mass shootings in the United States, the suspects were typically located, whether deceased or alive, within a matter of minutes. However, in the case of Robert Card, he remained at large for a full day following the shootings, intensifying the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the situation.

Impact on Community

Lewiston, normally a tranquil and tight-knit community, was uncharacteristically empty on an unusually warm fall day. Changeable message signs throughout the city reminded residents to remain behind locked doors, emphasizing the severity of the ongoing manhunt.
Institutions like Bates College in Lewiston also took precautions, with students staying in dorms and keeping the blinds closed. This tragic event struck a chord with parents like Diana Florence, whose son is a sophomore at Bates College. She had also experienced a similar incident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her daughter, a senior, had been affected by a lockdown due to a shooting threat.

A Disturbing Trend

The mass shooting in Lewiston marked the 36th such incident in the United States in the current year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. This alarming statistic emphasizes the urgent need for effective measures to address gun violence.

A Call for Legislative Action

At a press conference held in response to the Lewiston shootings, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine issued an apology for his past opposition to a ban on assault weapons. He urged Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit the use of deadly weapons of war, such as the assault rifle allegedly used in the crime.
Golden statement reflects the growing sentiment among lawmakers and the public for stricter gun control measures to prevent such tragic events in the future.

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The tragic events in Lewiston, Maine, have left the community in shock and grief. As the search for Robert Card, the alleged perpetrator, continues, the state and the nation grapple with the devastating consequences of mass shootings. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need for comprehensive gun control measures and mental health support to prevent such tragedies in the future.

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