LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Maine Gov. Janet Mills confirmed at a news conference Friday night that the suspect wanted for killing 18 people at a bowling alley and bar has been found dead in Lisbon, Maine.
“Like many people, I’m breathing a sign of relief tonight knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone,” Mills said. “I also know that his death might not bring solace to many. But now is a time to heal.”
Maine’s public safety commissioner, Mike Sauschuck, said at the conference that Card was found at 7:45 pm near the Androscoggin River. He declined to provide a specific address.
Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre said the community can now “breathe a sigh of relief.”
“This is vitally important to all of us that this conclusion came to light tonight,” St. Pierre said. “We’re going to grieve for the families that lost love ones.”
Card, 40, of Bowdoin, Maine, was a U.S. Army reservist who underwent a mental health evaluation in mid-July after he began acting erratically during training, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.
Card had been sought since the Wednesday night shootings, and murder warrants were issued against him.
A bulletin sent to police across the country shortly after the attack said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this past summer after “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” a military base.
A U.S. official said Card was training with the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment in West Point, New York, when commanders became concerned about him.
State police took Card to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for evaluation, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the information and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity
Authorities had scoured the woods and hundreds of acres of family-owned property, sent dive teams with sonar to the bottom of a river and scrutinized a possible suicide note Friday in the second day of their intensive search for Card.
Authorities lifted their shelter in place order Friday evening, nearly 48 hours after the shootings.
The names and pictures of the 16 males and 2 females who died were released as State Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck asked for a moment of silence at a news conference. Their ages ranged from 14 to 76.
Law enforcement officials had said they hadn’t not seen suspect Card since his vehicle was left at a boat ramp Wednesday shortly after the shootings.
Authorities say Card, who has firearms training, opened fire at the bar and a bowling alley Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city.
The city held an online vigil Friday night with local clergy members, prayer and music. Residents expressed their shock and pain in chat postings, describing themselves as angry, grieving, tired and heartbroken. Those watching at home were urged to light candles.
One poster, Victoria, wrote: “I lost 2 people that I cared truly about and a close family friend that is currently fighting for his life in ICU. My heart’s shattered.”
Police and other law enforcement officers were spotted in several areas around the region on Friday. Divers searched the water near a boat launch in Lisbon, and a farming business in the same town. At points throughout the day, police vehicles were seen speeding through several towns, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
A gun was found in Card’s car, which was discovered at a boat ramp, and federal agents were testing it to determine if it was used in the shooting, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. Authorities have said publicly that the shooter used at least one rifle. They have not released any other details, including how the suspect obtained the firearm.
Authorities found a suicide note at a home associated with Card on Thursday that was addressed to his son, the law enforcement officials said. They said it didn’t provide any specific motive for the shooting. Authorities also recovered Card’s cellphone in the home, making a search more complicated because authorities routinely use phones to track suspects, the officials said.
Federal agents conducted several searches of properties associated with Card on Thursday, collecting a number of items, including electronics, the officials said. Investigators are also analyzing Card’s financial information and reviewing his social media posts, writings and his mental health history, they said.
The Cards have lived in Bowdoin for generations, neighbors said, and various members of the family own hundreds of acres in the area. The family owned the local sawmill and years ago donated the land for a local church.
“This is his stomping ground,” Richard Goddard, who lives on the road where a search took place on Thursday, said of the suspect. “He knows every ledge to hide behind, every thicket.”
Family members of Card told federal investigators that he had recently discussed hearing voices and became more focused on the bowling alley and bar, according to the law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. When he was hospitalized in July in New York, Card had told military officials he had been hearing voices and said he wanted to harm other soldiers, the officials said.
Police said Thursday that Card would be charged with 18 counts of murder.
The victims of the shootings include Bob Violette, 76, a retiree who was coaching a youth bowling league and was described as devoted, approachable and kind. Auburn City Councilor Leroy Walker told news outlets that his son, Joe, a manager at the bar and grill, died going after the shooter with a butcher knife. Peyton Brewer-Ross was a dedicated pipefitter at Bath Iron Works whose death leaves a gaping void in the lives of his partner, young daughter and friends, members of his union said.
The manager of the youth bowling league vowed that the league would survive despite the devastating grief members were feeling.
The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf said the shootings killed at least four members of their community, many of whom were ardent advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The attacks stunned a state of only 1.3 million people that has one of the country’s lowest homicide rates: 29 killings in all of 2022. Gov. Janet Mills said Friday that many Maine residents will know someone who died.
“It is often said that our state is ‘one big, small town’ because Maine is such a close-knit community. As a result, many of us know the victims personally, including me,” she said in a statement. “Tonight, I ask Maine people to join me in reading their stories, learning who they were, celebrating them as beloved people, and mourning them as irreplaceable.”
Schools, public buildings and many businesses remained closed Friday. Bates College in Lewiston canceled classes and postponed the inauguration of the school’s first Black president.
The shootings mark the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Ramer reported from Concord, New Hampshire, Whittle from Portland, Maine, and Smith from Bowdoin, Maine. Associated Press journalists Jake Bleiberg in Portland; Robert Bukaty and Robert Bumsted in Lewiston; David R. Martin in Bowdoin; Michael Balsamo in New York; Darlene Superville and Lolita Baldor in Washington, D.C.; Michael Casey in Boston; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, and Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.