Maine residents remain in homes amid search for mass killing suspect

Photo courtesy of MGN

10/27/23 By Colette Lauture

Maine residents sheltered behind locked doors Thursday night as hundreds of heavily armed police and FBI agents searched for Robert Card, a 40-year-old with firearms instruction training. Authorities say he fatally shot 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar in Maine’s worst mass killing in history.

He is suspected of opening fire with at least one rifle in these locations Wednesday in Lewiston, which is the state’s second-largest city. On top of those killed, authorities said three people are still hospitalized in critical condition. Authorities also said he should be considered armed and dangerous, and not approached.

The majority of Thursday’s search focused on a property belonging to one of Card’s relatives in rural Bowdoin, which is about 15 miles from Lewiston. Trucks and vans at the property full of armed agents surrounded the home. Card and anyone else inside were ordered to surrender repeatedly, but hours later authorities moved off. Police said it was still unclear whether Card had ever been at that location.

Schools, doctor’s offices and grocery stores closed and people stayed behind locked doors for cities as far as 50 miles from the scenes of the shootings. Portland, Maine’s largest city, closed its public buildings. Bates College in Lewiston also canceled classes Friday and postponed the inauguration of the school’s first Black president.

April Stevens, a resident in the same neighborhood where one of the shootings took place, said she turned on all her lights overnight and locked her doors. She said she knew someone killed at the bar and another person injured who needed surgery. 

“We’re praying for everyone,” she said tearfully.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills promised to do whatever was needed to locate Card and to hold whomever responsible for the shootings. She added that “full justice for the victims and their families” will be sought after. 

Details about Card’s recent behavior emerged as authorities searched for him. A United States Official told the Associated Press he underwent a medical evaluation in mid-July, after he started acting erratically with his reserve regiment.

Maine State Police Col. William Ross said eight murder warrants were issued for Card after authorities identified eight of the victims. Ten more will likely be issued once the names of the rest of the dead are confirmed.

The attacks shocked a state with one of the country’s lowest homicide rates; In all of 2022, there were 29 killings. The shootings also mark the 36th mass killing in the U.S. this year, according to a database managed by The Associated Press and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University.