Maine shootings: police surround farmhouse owned by suspect’s family in Bowdoin | Maine shootings
Mass-shooting suspect Robert Card may be holed up in a family-owned farmhouse in Bowdoin, Maine, several miles from where he is alleged to have carried out a massacre on Wednesday evening.
The FBI and Maine state police have been staking out the property since the afternoon without offering clarity on the situation.
With the world’s media camped out across a meadow, and directed to turn their TV lights off, with helicopters and drones flying overhead, the scene has taken on the quality of a New England monster-in-the-village primal tale, against a backdrop of grief and anger over the killing of 18 people and the wounding of another 13, three gravely.
For 2o miles around Lewiston, Maine, stores have been closed and residents have been mostly staying inside under inconsistent shelter-in-place orders.
Law enforcement have not said whether they have made contact with Card, or whether he is indeed at the farm. At one point, police left the scene for close to two hours before returning with more tactical equipment.
“There’s a chance he’s here,” said a local sheriff, who refused to elaborate further.
Officials had urged residents in both towns and surrounding areas to shelter in place as a multistate manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement personnel continued searching forests, waterways and small towns.
Card’s car was found near a boat ramp. The coast guard was searching the Kennebec River though authorities would not comment on whether they suspected he had escaped by water.
A note was reportedly found in the home of the suspect in the course of a search, according to senior law enforcement officials speaking to NBC New York, who said it was being studied for any ways it could guide the investigation.
“This is someone that should not be approached. This is someone, if you come into any contact with this individual, or someone that you think looks like this individual, you want to call 911,” said Col William Ross of the Maine state police.
Janet Mills, the Democratic governor, said the community was just beginning to come to terms with the murders.
“This is a dark day for Maine,” she said. “The people of Lewiston are enduring immeasurable pain. I wish I could take that pain off your hearts, off your shoulders. But I promise you this, we will all help you carry that grief.”
Mills was speaking as the first victims were named by relatives. Retired Sears mechanic and avid bowler Bob Violette, 76, was killed during a children’s bowling league event at the alley, “trying to protect the kids he was responsible for”, according to a family statement reported by the Portland Press Herald.
Tricia Asselin, 53, was shot as she attempted to call 911 from the alley’s counter, her brother, DJ Johnson, told CNN. “She wasn’t going to run. She was going to try and help,” he said.
The incident, which took place at about 7pm on Wednesday, was the 565th mass shooting in the US,said. The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four victims are wounded or killed, excluding the shooter.
Mike Sauschuck, Maine commissioner of public safety, said Card had mental health issues and was released this summer after a short stay at a treatment facility. Sauschuck said Card, from Bowdoin, about 15 miles east of Lewiston, reported hearing “voices in his head” and made threats to carry out a shooting at a national guard base in Saco.
A clearer picture of Card’s background began to emerge. An account on X, formerly Twitter, was suspended by the social media giant, but not beforeof likes and retweets praising far-right figures.
Sauschuck was reluctant to answer more questions about the suspect, or how he had access to firearms. Army records showed he joined the military in 2002 and was a petroleum supply officer who did not deploy overseas. Colleagues told CNN he was a skilled marksman.
Card’s family is reportedly working with law enforcement and has.
In Washington, Joe Biden ordered flags at federal public buildings and overseas to half-staff until sunset on Monday, to commemorate victims of the “senseless act of violence”.
“Once again, our nation is in mourning after yet another senseless and tragic mass shooting,” the president saidurging Republicans to join Democrats in passing gun safety reforms.
“This is the very least we owe every American who will now bear the scars – physical and mental – of this latest attack.”
The shootings took place at Just-in-Time Recreation, a bowling alley, and at Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant in Lewiston, about four miles away. Locals said a number of parents and children were at the alley as part of a children’s bowling league.
Seven of the victims, six male and one female, were killed at the alley, Ross said. Eight others, all male, died at the restaurant. Three more died in hospital. John Alexander, chief medical officer of Central Maine Healthcare, said three of the wounded were in critical condition.
Ross said eight of the dead had been identified, resulting in the issuance of arrest warrants for eight counts of murder. He said the number would rise.
Agents from federal agencies including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) arrived in Maine to join the search and investigation.
The Androscoggin county sheriff posted to Facebook two photographs of the suspect walking into the bowling alley with a long weapon raised. One witness, who identified himself as Brandon, said he thought the shots were balloons popping, before scrambling to safety.
Zoey Levesque, 10, who was at the alley with her mother, told the TV station WMTW she was grazed by a bullet.
“It’s scary,” she said. “I had never thought I’d grow up and get a bullet in my leg. And it’s just like, why? Why do people do this?”
, the owners of Just-in-Time said they were “devastated”.
“We lost some amazing and whole-hearted people from our bowling family and community last night,” a statement said. “There are no words to fix this or make it better. We praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”
Kathy Lebel, a co-owner of Schemengees, said she was told a person walked into the restaurant and “started shooting”. Staff ran out, she said.
“It was just a fun night playing cornhole … it’s the last thing you’re expecting, right?” Lebel told the Sun Journal newspaper. “I still feel like this whole thing is a nightmare.”
Jason Levesque, mayor of the town of Auburn, told NBC locals initially thought it was “some sort of Halloween joke … the initial pops … until everything started escalating quite rapidly and that’s where everything really kind of got blurry for a lot of folks.”
Cellphone video showed patrons running or being led to safety. Schools, colleges and businesses remained closed, amid the search for the killer.
Maine has some of the loosest gun laws in the US. Permits are not required and it has no red flag laws to alert authorities of potential problems with gun purchasers. The state has a strong tradition of hunting and shooting. In 2022, there were 29 homicides throughout Maine.
Amaintained by the Associated Press and Northeastern University, more narrowly focused than the Gun Violence Archive, said the Lewiston shooting was the 36th US mass killing this year, 188 people losing their lives in incidents in which at least four people were killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report