CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Arrest warrant issued for suspect after 18 killed in shooting rampage in Maine as manhunt continues, officials say

Oct 26, 2023, 8:18 AM | Updated: 12:40 pm

Maine shooting , robert card pictured, he's the person of interest shooting...

The Lewiston Police Department identified Robert Card as a "person of interest" in the shootings. (Lewiston Police Department)

(Lewiston Police Department)

Lewiston, Maine (CNN) — An extensive manhunt is underway for a suspect in a mass shooting at a bowling alley and at a restaurant in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night that left 18 people dead and 13 others injured, Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Robert Card, 40, accusing him of murder, Maine State Police Col. William Ross said during a Thursday news conference. He “should be considered armed and dangerous,” officials said.

Card is a certified firearms instructor and a member of the US Army Reserves, law enforcement officials in Maine told CNN. He had recently threatened to carry out a shooting at a National Guard facility in Saco, Maine, and reported mental health issues, including hearing voices, the officials said.

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The shooting and ensuing manhunt has led to shelter-in-place orders in Lewiston and its surrounding areas and the closures of schools, businesses and other facilities. Over 350 law enforcement personnel are involved in the search for Card, officials said.

Card’s family is urging him to surrender, his brother Ryan Card confirmed to CNN via text message. He would not tell CNN if his brother has responded to the family’s requests.

“(We) have helped law enforcement in anyway possible,” Ryan Card told CNN.

“The police have been given anything that we can offer to facilitate their efforts,” and “there are many people hurting out there, please focus on them … this is many people’s worst nightmare.”

Some in the area woke up Thursday to officers with long guns scouring their neighborhoods.

“Nerves are rattled right now – keeping an eye on the woods,” said Cory, a resident of nearby Lisbon, Maine, whose 10-year-old daughter was inside his home. “That actually made me feel better. Seeing the cops coming around here, that makes me feel a million times better.”

With a death toll of 18, the rampage appears to be the deadliest mass shooting of the year in the United States and the deadliest since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022. There have been 565 mass shootings this year across the country, with four or more shot excluding the shooter, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Of the 18 victims in Lewiston, seven were found dead at the bowling alley Just-In-Time Recreation and eight were found dead at Schemengees Bar & Grille, while three others died at the hospital, Ross said.

Central Maine Medical Center took in 14 patients over about 45 minutes Wednesday evening, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Alexander said at a midday news conference Thursday. Three died, two were discharged and one was transferred, he said. Of the eight patients still at the medical center, three were in critical condition and five in stable condition, he said.

“This is a dark day for Maine,” Mills said at the news conference. “It’s hard for us to think about healing when our hearts are broken.”

Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder, Ross of Maine State Police said. “Ten (victims) have not yet been identified. As those people are identified, the counts will probably go to the total of 18.”

By Thursday morning, the entire Lisbon Police Department had been called in to hunt for the shooter and make sure businesses were closed, Chief Ryan McGee said.

“Right now, this is an active scene in Lisbon,” he told reporters.

Major Northeast grocery chain Hannaford Supermarkets kept all its Maine stores closed early Thursday, the company said. And public schools in Lewiston and Portland – the state’s largest district, with about 6,500 students – were closed, officials have said.

People in nearby Bowdoin, Maine, were advised early Thursday the shelter in place advisory and school closings would include their town, Maine State Police announced: “Please stay inside your homes while more than 100 investigators, both local and federal” search for Card.

“We want to locate the individual, make sure our community’s kept safe,” McGee said, “so biggest thing I can say is make sure that if the community sees anything, stay inside, don’t approach, call the police department – just like we did here just here. Someone heard something, they called: It’s the right thing to do.”

How the shooting unfolded

The rampage began shortly before 7 p.m. in Lewiston, a largely working-class community located midway between Portland, the state’s most populous city, and Augusta, the state capital.

Lewiston is a sprawling residential and industrial area just off the Maine Turnpike with two hospitals – one of which is a trauma center – and a private liberal arts college, which are major employers.

The active shooting incidents were reported at Just-in-Time Recreation, a bowling alley on Mollison Way, and about 4 miles away at Schemengees on Lincoln Street, Lewiston Police said. Authorities initially identified the bowling alley by its prior name, Sparetime Recreation.

People ran away from Just-in-Time Recreation as police cruisers responded to the scene, video obtained by CNN shows. A person on a stretcher was loaded into an ambulance, another video from outside the bowling alley shows.

Nichoel Wyman Arel was on her way home with her daughter from a Girl Scout meeting when she saw police lights and ambulances around the bowling alley and people running. At least one person looked to be covered in blood, she told CNN’s Laura Coates.

Arel and her daughter saw officers patting people down as they came out of the bowling alley, she said.

“There were kids. Looking back, that was probably the hardest part is seeing just families; families pouring out of there,” Arel said. “And knowing that that happened in there while they were just probably trying to have a family night.”

When she got home, Arel locked up the house, including windows, she said. Her daughter “was scared somebody was going to come into our home.”

Lewiston police shared an image of a small, white SUV with a front bumper that was believed to be painted black. Maine State Police confirmed to CNN the image is of the person of interest’s car.

A “vehicle of interest” was found Wednesday night 8 miles from Lewiston in the town of Lisbon, prompting shelter-in-place-orders for that area as well, Sauschuck said.

Officials in Auburn, Maine, also urged residents to shelter in place due to the active shooter situation, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter. “You can train for this, but you can never be completely prepared,” Mayor Jason Levesque said. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation.”

Suspect made statements about hurting soldiers, sources say

Card, a sergeant first class, was at the Camp Smith training facility in upstate New York this summer when he started making statements about hearing voices and having thoughts about wanting to hurt fellow soldiers, law enforcement sources told CNN’s John Miller.

Consequently, he got a command referral to a military hospital and spent a few weeks under evaluation.

Card’s sister-in-law, Katie O’Neill, said in a brief conversation with CNN on Thursday that Card does not have a long history of mental health struggles.

“This is something that was an acute episode. This is not who he is,” O’Neill said. “He is not someone who has had mental health issues for his lifetime or anything like that.”

Card is a petroleum supply specialist in the Army Reserve and first enlisted in 2002, according to records provided by the Army on Thursday. He has no combat deployments, according to the records.

Clifford Steeves of Massachusetts told CNN he knew Card when they served in the Army Reserve together, starting in the early 2000s until about a decade ago. He said he never witnessed any concerning behavior from Card.

“He was a very nice guy – very quiet. He never overused his authority or was mean or rude to other soldiers,” Steeves said. “It’s really upsetting.”

Steeves said Card never saw combat but had extensive training, including firearms training and land navigation, “so he would be very comfortable in the woods.” He described Card as an “outdoors type of guy” and a skilled marksman who was one of the best shooters in his unit.

‘Lewiston is a special place’

President Joe Biden has spoken by phone with Maine lawmakers and “offered full federal support in the wake of this horrific attack,” the White House said in a statement.

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline is “heartbroken for our city and our people,” he said. “Lewiston is known for our strength and grit and we will need both in the days to come.”

Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Shanna Cox on Thursday called the scene of both attacks “family locations.”

“It was family league activity at the bowling alley. The likeliness of this having direct impact for so many here is so real.”

Levesque lost friends in the shooting, he told “CNN This Morning.” And a teenager who went to school with his son was shot and is expected to recover, he said.

There’s going to be very few people in this community that have not been touched by this,” he said. “It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, and it’s really hard for me to explain that.”

Counselors, local clergy and state police representatives were at the reunification center in his city, less than 2 miles west of Lewiston, Levesque said.

“The other folks that I knew that were there either as witnesses or family members of witnesses; it’s obviously traumatic,” Levesque said. “The bright spot was seeing individuals reunified with their loved ones after not knowing for so long, but on the on the other side, the ones that were waiting and waiting, probably would never be reunified.”

The governor called Lewiston “a special place.”

“It’s a close-knit community with a long history of hard work, of persistence, of faith, of opening its big heart to people everywhere,” Mills said. “This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does, no state, no people.”

Just-In-Time Recreation is “devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night,” it said in a statement on Facebook. “There are no words to fix this or make it better.

“Stay close to your loved ones. Embrace them,” Lewiston Public Schools said in a post. “Our prayers go out to those who lost someone tonight. Our prayers go out to all those working to stop further loss of life.”

Meanwhile, the FBI office in Boston is ready to assist local authorities as they respond to the mass shooting, it said.

“The FBI Boston Division continues to coordinate with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Maine and we stand ready to assist with any available resources they need, including evidence response, investigative and tactical support, as well as victim assistance,” the FBI in Boston said in a statement.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Jamiel Lynch, Josh Campbell, Chris Boyette, Curt Devine, Casey Tolan, Isabelle Chapman, Allison Gordon, Nouran Salahieh and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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Arrest warrant issued for suspect after 18 killed in shooting rampage in Maine as manhunt continues, officials say