Residents of Maine Hunker Down in Fear as Intense Search for Suspect in Mass Killing of 18 Unfolds

by Chloe Baker

In a state gripped by shock and fear, residents of Maine found themselves confined to their homes for a second consecutive night. This apprehension stemmed from an extensive manhunt led by hundreds of heavily armed law enforcement officers and FBI agents in pursuit of Robert Card, an Army reservist allegedly responsible for a horrifying incident, claiming the lives of 18 individuals at both a bowling alley and a bar, marking the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history.

The focal point of Thursday’s search efforts centered on a property linked to one of Card’s relatives in the tranquil town of Bowdoin. Here, a convoy of trucks and vans filled with armed agents from various agencies converged around a residence. Repeated calls for Card and any potential occupants to surrender echoed through loudspeakers, emphasizing the urgency of the situation. Typically, law enforcement swiftly enters premises when executing search warrants for violent crime suspects. However, in this case, hours passed, multiple announcements were made, and the outcome remained uncertain, leaving state police puzzled about Card’s presence at the location.

Residents like Richard Goddard, who resides in the vicinity of the search, have a personal connection to the Card family. Goddard noted that Robert Card, who is four years his junior, possesses an intimate knowledge of the terrain. He remarked, “This is his stomping ground. He grew up here. He knows every ledge to hide behind, every thicket.”

The pursuit for Card spanned several residences, with law enforcement diligently following every lead. Card, a 40-year-old with firearms instructor training, is deemed armed and dangerous, discouraging any attempts at direct confrontation.

Card is believed to have unleashed a barrage of gunfire, potentially from multiple firearms, at a bar and a bowling alley located in Lewiston, approximately 15 miles away from Bowdoin and the second-largest city in Maine. The tragic incident unfolded on a fateful evening, resulting in 18 fatalities and 13 individuals wounded, with three of them in critical condition and still hospitalized.

Details regarding the firearms used and their sources remain undisclosed by authorities.

The impact of these horrific events rippled across the state, prompting school closures, shuttered doctor’s offices, and grocery store shutdowns. Residents in cities up to 50 miles from the incident took refuge behind locked doors. Even Portland, Maine’s largest city, closed its public buildings. Meanwhile, the Canada Border Services Agency issued an “armed and dangerous” alert to its officers stationed along the U.S. border.

April Stevens, residing in the same neighborhood where one of the shootings occurred, described her reaction, stating that she kept all her lights on overnight and secured her doors. She expressed her sorrow, having known someone killed at the bar and another person who sustained injuries requiring surgery, saying, “We’re praying for everyone.”

The tragedy has shaken Maine, a state with a population of only 1.3 million people and a historically low homicide rate, recording just 29 killings in the entire year of 2022.

Governor Janet Mills vowed to spare no effort in the pursuit of Robert Card, pledging to hold the responsible parties accountable and seek full justice for the victims and their families.

As the search continued, new details emerged about Card’s recent behavior. In mid-July, Card underwent a mental health evaluation after displaying erratic conduct while serving with his reserve regiment, as reported by a U.S. official. A bulletin sent to police nationwide indicated that Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks earlier in the summer due to concerns over “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” a military base.

Maine, a state with a deep-rooted culture of gun ownership tied to hunting and sport shooting, does not require permits for carrying firearms. In 2019, lawmakers passed a “yellow flag” law, distinct from the more stringent “red flag” laws adopted by other states. This law mandates that police seek a medical evaluation of individuals deemed potentially dangerous before attempting to confiscate their firearms.

Dave Letarte, a neighbor of the Card family, shared his perspective, describing the family as kind and accommodating. However, he also noted that Robert Card had exhibited signs of mental instability for some time, expressing his shock at the turn of events.

Notably, eight murder warrants have been issued for Card, and ten more are expected once the remaining victims are identified, according to Maine State Police Col. William Ross.

Of the 13 individuals wounded in the shootings, three remain in critical condition, while five are hospitalized but in stable condition, according to Central Maine Medical Center officials.

The tragic incident unfolded at Just-In-Time Recreation, where a children’s bowling league was in session shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Patrick Poulin, who had intended to be present with his 15-year-old son, reflected on the close call, emphasizing that numerous young bowlers, along with their parents, were present at the facility during the shooting.

Less than 15 minutes later, numerous 911 calls poured in from Schemengees Bar and Grille, located a few miles away.

The extensive search for Card encompassed both land and water, with the Coast Guard deploying a patrol boat along the Kennebec River. Unfortunately, this search yielded no significant developments. Card’s car was discovered near a boat launch in Lisbon, close to the Androscoggin River, which connects to the Kennebec. Additionally, Card’s 15-foot boat remained unaccounted for.

In contrast to many past mass shootings in the United States, where the suspect was swiftly located, whether deceased or alive, Card remained at large a full day after the devastating events unfolded.

Lewiston, usually bustling, appeared deserted on an unusually warm fall day as changeable message signs emphasized the importance of staying behind locked doors.

The tragic shootings in Lewiston represent the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, as documented by The Big Big News and USA Today in collaboration with Northeastern University.

At a press conference addressing the Lewiston shootings, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine expressed regret for his past opposition to an assault weapons ban. He called on Congress to enact such legislation, acknowledging the need for accountability and action in the face of such tragedies.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Manhunt

What happened in Maine that led to the manhunt?

An Army reservist named Robert Card allegedly shot and killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar in Maine, marking the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history.

Why did residents stay in their homes during the manhunt?

Residents stayed home out of fear and concern for their safety as a massive manhunt involving heavily armed police and FBI agents searched for the suspect, Robert Card, who was considered armed and dangerous.

What was the focus of law enforcement’s search efforts?

Much of the search centered on a property belonging to one of Card’s relatives in Bowdoin, Maine, where authorities believed he might be hiding.

Were there any clues about Card’s recent behavior?

Card had undergone a mental health evaluation in mid-July due to erratic behavior while with his reserve regiment. He had also been committed to a mental health facility earlier in the summer after expressing threats and hearing voices related to a military base.

How did this tragedy impact the state of Maine?

The mass shooting had a profound impact on Maine, a state with a low homicide rate. Schools, businesses, and public buildings closed, and residents in areas far from the incident remained behind locked doors.

What gun laws are in place in Maine?

Maine does not require permits to carry guns, but it has a “yellow flag” law that allows police to seek a medical evaluation of potentially dangerous individuals before attempting to confiscate their firearms.

How did law enforcement respond to the incident?

Law enforcement issued multiple murder warrants for Card and pursued leads in the search for the suspect. The Coast Guard also conducted searches along the Kennebec River.

Did the suspect, Robert Card, have any connection to the victims?

It is not clear if Card had any direct connection to the victims, but the shootings occurred at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, Maine.

How does this incident compare to past mass shootings in the United States?

This incident in Lewiston marked the 36th mass killing in the United States in that year, according to a database maintained by The Big Big News and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.

What was the response from political representatives regarding gun control?

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine expressed regret for his past opposition to an assault weapons ban and called for Congress to pass such legislation in response to this tragedy.

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Anonymous123 October 27, 2023 - 5:25 am

man, this is so sad, 18 ppl dead, scary stuff!

InsightfulMind October 27, 2023 - 7:15 pm

Mental health’s important, glad they mentioned it, RIP to the victims

GrammarNazi101 October 28, 2023 - 1:06 am

This text needs better grammar, but the news is shocking!

NewsJunkie55 October 28, 2023 - 1:57 am

yea, its just awful, hope they catch the guy soon, what a tragedy


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