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Suspect in Maine shootings found dead, ending 2-day manhunt

Click to play video: 'Lewiston police confirm death of suspected gunman in Maine shootings after finding body'
Lewiston police confirm death of suspected gunman in Maine shootings after finding body
WATCH: Lewiston police confirm death of suspected gunman in Maine shootings after finding body – Oct 27, 2023

The man who police believe killed 18 people and wounded 13 others in two separate shootings in a Maine city on Wednesday has been found dead, state officials confirmed Friday night.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said Robert Card’s body was found in Lisbon, a town about 12 kilometres east of Lewiston where the shootings took place.

“Like many people, I’m breathing a sigh of relief tonight knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone,” Mills told reporters at a press conference.

State Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck confirmed Card had died from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.” He said the body was found near the Androscoggin River in Lisbon Falls, but declined to provide more information, including when authorities believed Card died.

He said the development allows investigators to “slow down” and comb through evidence that can provide a more detailed account of the shootings and Card’s actions afterwards. A previously scheduled news conference for Saturday morning will go ahead as planned, he added, where more information may be provided.

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The discovery of Card’s body brought an end to an extensive manhunt just over 48 hours after it began. Hundreds of officers had been combing Lewiston and the surrounding area, which lies three-and-a-half hours from the Canadian border, putting residents on lockdown and on edge.

Card, 40, was a U.S. Army reservist who police said opened fire at Schemengees Bar and Grille and at Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley in Lewiston on Wednesday night and then fled both scenes.

A bulletin sent to police across the country shortly after the attack, which was viewed by the Associated Press, 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.

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Click to play video: 'Maine shootings: Suspect left paper note with personal information, not ‘explicit suicide note’'
Maine shootings: Suspect left paper note with personal information, not ‘explicit suicide note’

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.

Law enforcement officials had said they hadn’t seen Card since his vehicle was left at a boat ramp Wednesday shortly after the shootings.

Authorities lifted their shelter in place order Friday evening, nearly 48 hours after the shootings.

“Tonight we’re grateful that Lewiston and surrounding communities are safe after spending excruciating days hiding in their homes,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Biden spoke with Mills twice Friday evening to discuss the investigation, the White House said.

The names and pictures of the 16 men and two women who died were released by State Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck, who asked for a moment of silence at a news conference earlier in the evening. Their ages ranged from 14 to 76.

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Click to play video: 'Maine shootings: Long-gun style firearm found in white Subaru'
Maine shootings: Long-gun style firearm found in white Subaru

 

At least four of the victims were members of the deaf community, according to the Maine Education Center for the Deaf. At Friday night’s press conference, Mills hugged the American Sign Language interpreter standing next to the podium before beginning her remarks.

Police said Thursday that Card would be charged with 18 counts of murder.

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. Mills said earlier Friday that many Maine residents will know someone who died.

She later said in a statement that she personally knew one victim who provided ASL interpretation during the state’s COVID-19 pandemic briefings.

Canadian border officials had also been put on alert in the event Card tried to cross into Canada.

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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.

Click to play video: 'Red flag laws could prevent events like Maine shooting, advocates say'
Red flag laws could prevent events like Maine shooting, advocates say

Biden and Democrats have said the shootings are another reminder that urgent action is needed to reduce gun violence in the U.S., including through strengthened gun control measures.

Biden has long pushed for a renewed federal ban of assault weapons, and said Friday he would continue to push Congress to “fulfill their obligation to keep the American people safe.”

“Americans should not have to live like this,” he said.

Maine’s own gun laws have also been scrutinized. The state has what’s known as a “yellow flag” law, which is different from the “red flag” laws cropping up in other states that allows police to petition a judge to seize weapons from gun owners viewed as a threat.

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The law differs from red flag laws in that it requires police first to get a medical practitioner to evaluate the person and find them to be a threat before police can approach a judge. Critics say a red flag law could have prevented Wednesday’s shootings in Lewiston, given Card’s mental health history.

—With files from the Associated Press

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