Michael Balsamo – Associated Press, David Sharp – Associated Press, Holly Ramer – Associated Press in Lewiston
- States -Unis
Shocked and frightened Maine residents were sheltering in their homes Friday as Hundreds of heavily armed police and FBI agents were intensely searching for Robert Card, an Army reservist who gunned down 18 people at a bowling alley and bar.
Much of Thursday's search focused on a large property owned by one of Card's relatives in the rural town of Bowdoin, where trucks and vans filled with armed agents from the FBI and other agencies eventually surrounded a house. Concerned residents said Card may have the upper hand in navigating the rural, wooded area he knows well.
Richard Goddard, who lives on the road where the search took place, is familiar with the Family Card. Robert Card knows the terrain well, he said.
“It’s his favorite terrain. He grew up here, he testified. He knows every ledge to hide behind, every bush. »
Card and anyone else inside the house were repeatedly ordered to surrender. But hours later, after repeated announcements and searches, authorities left and it was still unclear whether Card had ever been to the scene, state police said.
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“You need to go out now with nothing in your hands. Your hands in the air,” police said over a loudspeaker. In most cases, when police execute warrants – even against suspects wanted for violent crimes – they quickly enter the home.
Several homes were searched and all leads were explored in the search for Card, a 40-year-old man trained as a firearms instructor. Authorities said he should be considered armed and dangerous and not be approached.
Card is suspected of opening fire with at least one rifle at a bar and bowling alley Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine's second-largest city about 15 miles from Bowdoin. The shootings killed 18 people and injured 13 others, and three people remain hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.
The shooting victims included Bob Violette, 76, a retiree who coached a youth bowling league and was described as dedicated, approachable and kind. Auburn City Councilman Leroy Walker revealed to the media that his son, Joe, a bar manager, died chasing the shooter with a butcher knife. Peyton Brewer-Ross was a dedicated pipefitter at Bath Iron Works whose death leaves a gaping hole in the lives of his partner, young daughter and friends, his union members said.
Authorities have not said how many weapons were used or how they were obtained.
Schools, medical clinics and grocery stores closed and people remained behind locked doors in towns as far as 50 miles from the scene of the shootings. Maine's largest city, Portland, closed its public buildings, while the Canada Border Services Agency issued an “armed and dangerous” alert to its agents stationed along the U.S. border.
< p>The streets of Lewiston and surrounding communities were virtually deserted Thursday evening. Trucks or occasional police patrols passed through neighborhoods dotted with giant lit pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween.
Lewiston schools were scheduled to remain closed Friday. Bates College in Lewiston also canceled classes Friday and postponed the inauguration of the school's first black president.
April Stevens lives in the same neighborhood where one of the shootings took place. She turned on all her lights during the night and locked her doors. She knew someone killed at the bar and another person injured who needed surgery.
“We're praying for everyone,” Stevens said through tears.
The search for the suspected shooter has also sparked concern elsewhere in Maine. In Portland, some restaurants and bars closed their doors, bringing an unusual early evening calm to the typically bustling downtown.
The shooter's past under the microscope
The attacks stunned a state of just 1.3 million people that has one of the lowest homicide rates in the country: 29 killings in all of 2022.
The governor of Maine's Janet Mills vowed to do whatever was necessary to find Card and “hold accountable whoever is responsible for this atrocity […] and seek full justice for the victims and their families.”
As authorities searched for Card, details of his recent behavior emerged. Card underwent a mental health evaluation in mid-July after he began acting unpredictably while in his reserve regiment, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.
A bulletin sent to police across the country after the attack said Card was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks last summer after “hearing voices and threats to shoot” on a military base .
Maine does not require a license to carry a firearm, and the state has a long-standing culture of gun ownership, tied to its hunting and hunting traditions. sports shooting. Keeping in mind the strong support for gun rights, lawmakers passed a “yellow flag” law in 2019 that would require police to seek a medical evaluation of anyone considered dangerous before attempting to remove his weapon. However, its critics say it is a weaker version of the stricter “whistleblower” laws that many other states have adopted.