After a 48-hour manhunt, a US Army soldier accused of showering a bowling alley and pub with gunfire in Lewiston, Maine, killing 18 people, was discovered dead, returning quiet to communities shaken by the slaughter but leaving many questions unexplained.
The body of Robert R. Card, 40, was recovered on Friday night in a forested location near where police discovered his abandoned getaway vehicle shortly after the shooting spree on Wednesday night, according to authorities.
Card appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck told reporters at a late-night briefing. He did not say how long the suspect was thought to have been dead or what led authorities to locate his body.
Sauschuck said police would have more to say at a news conference set for 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Saturday.
A total of 18 people perished and 13 others were wounded in Wednesday night’s carnage, which began when the gunman opened fire with a rifle inside the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, then launched another attack minutes later at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant a few miles away.
Officials have made no mention of a possible motive for the gun violence, nor have they revealed the contents of a note by the gunman that police said they found after the rampage.
The shootings and prolonged manhunt terrorized the normally bustling but serene community of Lewiston, a former textile hub and the second-most populous city in Maine. It lies on the banks of the Androscoggin River, about 35 miles (56 km) north of the state’s largest city, Portland.
Many business owners in Lewiston and adjacent communities closed shop in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, while authorities shuttered schools and issued directives urging some 40,000 area residents to remain indoors and off the streets as a precaution.
The “shelter-in-place” orders had been lifted Friday evening, a few hours before news broke that Card’s body had been found, after police said they had determined that the greatest immediate threat to public safety had abated.
“Like many people, I am breathing a sigh of relief tonight, knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone,” Maine Governor Janet Mills said as his death was announced. “Now is the time to heal.”
Card, an Army Reserve sergeant from the nearby town of Bowdoin, has been described by authorities as a trained firearms instructor who served as a petroleum supply specialist when on duty at the military reserve base in Saco, Maine.
Law enforcement officials also said he had a history of mental illness and was committed to a psychiatric facility for two weeks during the summer of 2023, after which he was released.
Within hours of Wednesday night’s bloodshed, police circulated surveillance camera photos from one of the crime scenes of a bearded man wearing a brown, hooded sweatshirt and jeans and carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.
The initial trail of clues led to Lisbon town, about 7 miles (11 km) to the southeast of Lewiston, where Maine State Police found a white SUV they believed Card had abandoned at a boat launch on the river. Lisbon Falls, where Card was found dead, is the next town along the river. CNN, citing a law enforcement source, said the suspect’s body was located near a recycling center where he had worked and had recently been fired from.
As part of their search for Card, police trawled the waters of the Androscoggin River with divers and sonar on Friday, and sent teams of officers door-to-door in neighborhood canvasses seeking additional clues and possible eyewitnesses.
Earlier in the day, authorities for the first time officially released the names and ages of the slain, including four deaf people who had been competing in a beanbag-tossing tournament at the bar and grill, a father-and-son pair of bowlers, a part-time bowling alley worker who tried to confront the shooter with a knife, and an elderly couple aged 76 and 73.