Photo: Robert F. Bukaty Associated Press The deadliest tragedy in Maine history stunned the state of 1.3 million inhabitants which experiences relatively little violent crime, and which recorded only 29 murders during the year 2022.
David Sharp – Associated Press, Patrick Whittle – Associated Press, Jake Bleiberg – Associated Press, Holly Ramer – Associated Press in Lewiston, Maine
- United States
The U.S. Army reservist who opened fire at a Maine bowling alley and bar earlier this week and killed 18 people purchased his guns legally, authorities said Saturday, adding that his rampage was likely triggered due to underlying mental health issues.
The body of Robert Card, a firearms instructor, was found Friday at a recycling center in the municipality of Lisbon, which police had searched the day before. Card died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Card, 40, is also suspected of wounding 13 people in Wednesday night's shooting in Lewiston.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said crews searched Maine Recycling Corporation property, including a tactical team, Thursday evening. He said another state police team returned to the scene Friday and found Robert Card's body in an area that had not been searched.
Jim Ferguson, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent in charge in Boston, told The Associated Press that the weapons used in the shooting were legally purchased. Numerous firearms were recovered, but he declined to specify their make, model or exact number.
“There were way more than three,” Ferguson said.< /p>
At a news conference, Sauschuck said Card had a history of mental illness. As for why Card chose his targets, Mr. Sauschuck said it was likely due to paranoia, that “people were talking about him and maybe there were even votes involved.”
Mr. Sauschuck did not elaborate on the matter, but he said there was no evidence that Card was ever involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. A simple assessment or voluntary commitment would not have triggered a ban on gun ownership, he said.
Under Maine's yellow flag law, law enforcement can arrest a person they suspect of having a mental illness and posing a threat to themselves or others. The law differs from red flag laws, since it requires police to first have a doctor evaluate the person as a threat before they can ask a judge to order the firearms seized of the person.
Mr. Sauschuck also said a note found at Card's home was intended for a loved one, and included the access code to his phone and bank account numbers. He clarified that he would not describe it as an explicit suicide note, but that the tone indicated that was the intention.
The streets of Lewiston were lively again Saturday morning, after a confinement of several days in the city of 37,000 inhabitants. The runners took advantage of the good weather. Citizens walked their dogs downtown, went to coffee shops and visited stores closed since the shooting.
Whitney Pelletier hung a hand-drawn “Lewiston Strong” sign on the door Saturday morning window of its downtown café, called Forage.
Like other local businesses, Forage was closed for several days while police searched for the suspect. She said the dead included one of her regular customers, and that her boyfriend knew other people who had died.
“Last night [Friday], when they found his body, I “I think the fear I had just living in downtown Lewiston has been replaced by sadness,” she said. Just for the victims and their loved ones, and for a community that wakes up today with a feeling of being a little less safe. »
US President Joe Biden said he was “grateful” that Maine residents no longer had to hide at home and called on Congress to take action against gun violence in a statement.
< h2 class="h2-intertitle">A stunned community
The deadliest tragedy in Maine history has stunned the state of 1.3 million people which has relatively little violent crime , and which recorded only 29 murders during the year 2022.
Card was a United States Army reservist. Leo Madden, who said he ran the Maine Recycling Corporation for decades, told the AP that Card worked there for a few years and that nothing about him stood out. Mr. Madden said he did not remember when Card was an employee at the establishment, or whether he was fired or resigned.
Last summer, Card underwent a mental health evaluation after he began acting erratically during training, a U.S. official told the AP. A bulletin sent to police across the country shortly after the attack said Card was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks after “hearing voices and threats to shoot” on a military base.
On Wednesday, Card first attacked the bowling alley, then went to the bar. Police were quickly dispatched to both locations, but Card managed to escape. For the next two days, authorities scoured the woods and hundreds of acres of Card's homestead, as well as sending sonar-equipped dive teams to the bottom of the Androscoggin River.
Law enforcement officials said they had not seen Card since his vehicle was left at a boat ramp Wednesday, shortly after the shooting.
< p>A few hours before Card's body was discovered, the names and photos of the 15 men, two women and a 14-year-old boy who died in the tragedy were made public during a press conference.
< p>The Maine Department of Public Safety announced it will open a Family Assistance Center in Lewiston beginning Saturday morning to provide assistance and support to victims.
Pope Francis sent a telegram to Portland Bishop Robert Deeley on Saturday saying he was “deeply saddened to learn of the terrible loss of life resulting from the mass shooting.”