Relief washed over a grieving Mainecommunity that had endured two days in fear. Authorities announced on Friday evening that the man suspected of killing 18 people earlier this week at a bowling lanes and restaurant, was found dead.
Maine Public Safety commissioner Michael Sauschuck announced at a press conference on Friday night that the body of Robert Card (40), who died of an apparent gunshot wound he had inflicted himself, was found near a river, about 10 miles away from the devastated community of Lewiston.
The discovery brought to an end a two-day manhunt, which left many residents of the tranquil and picturesque area on edge. They were afraid to leave their homes.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, along with others, expressed relief that the manhunt, and the associated fear, had ended.
Mills, at a Friday night news conference, said: 'Like many other people, I breathe a sigh tonight knowing that Robert Card no longer poses a danger to anyone.' I know many people share this sentiment, but also that his death may not be comforting to some.
She said that the discovery will allow the community to move forward and begin the 'long and difficult road to recovery - but we'll heal together.
According to officials, the extensive manhunt began Wednesday night when gunshots rang at Just-in-Time Recreation in Lewiston and then at Schemengees Bar & Grille. Officials identified the 18 people who were killed on Friday. Their ages ranged from 14 to 75. The victims included a boy bowling with father, participants in a cornhole tourney for the deaf and fathers who left behind their young children. Officials said that 13 other people were injured in the shooting spree.
She told CNN's Kaitlan Collins on Friday that she was glad to hear that the suspect had been found dead. Now, the community can move forward without fear.
Tammy Asselin was separated from her daughter, aged 10, when the shooting started at the bowling alley of Just-in-Time Recreation. She continued, 'It gives my daughter peace to know he has been captured, because it was a worry of hers - he was still out there.
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Card was a US Army Reserve reservist, certified firearms instructor and had extensive training in land navigation and firearms. He was described by someone who served alongside him as a skilled marksman, and one of his best shooters.
Tammy Asselin's cousin Tricia, who was murdered, said on CNN that she wanted to know the reasons why the gunman chose the locations and why he shot when there were children present. She also asked why the shooter fired while there were children.
"You know, there are just those why' questions which unfortunately remain unanswered. We will likely never find out the answers."
After days of uncertainty, people across the state, community and country expressed relief to those living in the area.
Joe Biden, the president of the United States, said that he was grateful to Maine residents for their safety after they spent 'excruciating days hiding inside their homes'.
In a Friday night statement, Biden said that his administration would continue to 'provide everything needed to support people in Maine'. In a statement Friday night, Biden said that his administration will continue to 'provide everything needed to support the people of Maine.
Biden said, 'Americans shouldn't have to live this way.' I once again urge Republicans to do their part to protect the American people. Until then, I will do all that I can to stop this epidemic of gun violence. Lewiston, and all Americans, deserve no less.
Lewiston's community showed its strength on Friday, even before Card's corpse was discovered. The streets of Lewiston were strewn with fall leaves as people trickled into the city. Authorities had warned residents to remain vigilant and there was still a sense of unease about Card's location.
The sidewalks were crowded with people who entered and left buildings. The area was flooded with cars even before authorities lifted the shelter-in place order early Friday night, hours before Card's body was found.
In downtown Lewiston, someone decorated trees with paper-hearted messages such as 'to the community' and "to my neighbors".
Some businesses were closed all afternoon. However, some, such as the Halal markets that serve the immigrant population in the area, opened their doors only for a short time on Friday because of safety concerns.
Deborah Roy was emotional as she spoke to CNN about her mother's death a few weeks earlier. She had been at home three days prior to visiting the grocery store in Lisbon, 15 minutes from Lewiston, on Friday.
Roy explained, "I wanted to take a ride so I could get away." The line of customers stretched all the way to the back of this store on that afternoon, as many other businesses were closed due to the shelter-in place order.
Roy told us that she was'seeing people, cars, and cameras everywhere' on her way to the store.
Roy wept as he said, "When I saw the officers on that bridge, it really hit home."
She said, "I am just stunned to see that this is happening in my own town." It's shocking how one person can turn the world upside-down.
Sauschuck said that just over 48 hours after Card's manhunt began, authorities located his body near the Androscoggin river in the Lisbon Falls region, about 10 miles away from Lewiston.
A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that Card's corpse was discovered near the recycling center where he was recently fired. Authorities found Card's abandoned vehicle near a boat ramp in Lisbon earlier this week.
CNN reported that the body was found in a forest area.
Sauschuck stated that the details about Card's death'remain to be seen'. Authorities have not yet revealed a motive for the shooting.
CNN reported Thursday that while no motive was announced, there is a theory. Law enforcement sources told CNN John Miller that Card had recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend. Investigators are now pursuing the theory Card visited the bar and bowling alley because it was a place the couple would frequent.
A law enforcement official revealed to CNN that authorities had found a letter from Card in which he stated that he didn't expect to still be alive at the time of its discovery.
After the note was found, the manhunt shifted to include an underwater search of the Androscoggin river near where investigators discovered Card's abandoned car in Lisbon. Card has not been found despite an extensive search including divers, underwater vehicles and aircraft.
Over the course of two days, officers from the police with long guns searched and surrounded various locations in the normally quiet area. These included a greenhouse on Springworks Farm, Lisbon, as well as homes and other places associated with the suspect.
Card's house was visited by law enforcement officers on Thursday. They surrounded the home and ordered anyone inside to leave. It was not clear if anyone was there.
CNN reported that investigators executed a search at the house earlier on Thursday, searching for computers, notes and weapons, as well as any evidence which might have indicated a planned shooting, according to law enforcement sources.
An official from law enforcement said that Friday investigators had also recovered a cellphone that belonged the suspect.
Multiple law enforcement sources said that investigators believe the gun Card was used in the mass shooting was purchased legally just days before the hospitalization and order to undergo a psychiatric assessment in mid-July.
Card, who enlisted first in the Army Reserves in 2002, had been reported for 'behaving in an erratic manner' by Army Reserve officials. This prompted the New York State Police (NYSP) to respond to Camp Smith, the military base in Cortlandt where Card worked.
Card was acting 'belligerently' and 'possibly intoxicated', according to an informed source. State police took him to hospital nearby for suspected intoxication. Authorities said he was released on the following day.
A New York State Police spokeswoman told CNN that the investigation was ongoing and they do not comment on investigations in progress.
CNN reported that the Army sent Card a "Command Referral" to seek treatment. A federal law enforcement official told Army personnel Card was 'hearing voice' and thinking about 'hurting another soldier'.
Sources in law enforcement said that the encounters took place 10 days after Card bought the powerful rifle from a gun shop in Maine. According to sources, the powerful rifle was a Ruger 308 SFAR chambered in high-powered 308 cartridges.
Sources say that the gun found in Card's car appears to be identical to the one used by the shooter at the bar and bowling alley, although a ballistics comparison has not yet been made.
The FBI and ATF will examine the weapon for fingerprints, DNA and run laboratory tests to see if the bullets or shell casings at the scene are the same.
Sources say Card bought a Beretta semi-automatic Beretta 92F 9mm pistol in July along with the rifle. It's the standard pistol for the US military.
Authorities say that Card started shooting shortly before 7 pm on Wednesday at a Lewiston Bowling Alley and then at a local bar.
Police said that officers responded to the Lewiston shootings within minutes of receiving 911 calls.
Sauschuck stated that the initial 911 call came from Just-In Time Recreation at 6:56 pm, and first Lewiston Police officer arrived at 7:00 pm.
CNN obtained video showing people running from the bowling alley when police cruisers arrived on the scene.
Around 12 minutes after receiving the initial 911 calls, authorities received several calls from people reporting a shooter in the Schemengees bar and grille restaurant, located approximately 4 miles away from the bowling alley.
After the shooting of Card and the subsequent manhunt, Androscoggin County and Northern Sagadahoc, which includes Lewiston and Auburn, and Lisbon, were ordered to shelter in place.
Sources told CNN that investigators searched Card's house on Thursday, looking for any computers, notes, guns, or evidence which might have indicated a planned shooting.
The police found the car abandoned in Lisbon, about 8 miles away from Lewiston.
Friday, 18 victims of the shooting spree were identified. The victims ranged in age from 14-76.
Bill Young and Aaron Young, father and son, were bowling together when the shooting happened. Both were killed.
Kayla Putnam told CNN affiliate WCVB that Aaron, 14, is an honor student and takes pride in his grades.
Putnam stated that Bill was a mechanic and the father of the family.
Putnam told WCVB that it would be difficult for the family to cope without him. He was the heart of the family.
CNN affiliateWBZ reported that Bob Violette was just days away from his 77th birthday when he died after being shot at a bowling alley.
WBZ reported that Violette was teaching in a youth league at the time of the shooting. His relatives believe he died to protect his students. Lucille, his wife, was also killed in the attack.
Brandon Dubuc, Violette’s friend, told WBZ that Bob has been involved with the youth football league since he can remember. If he was with the kids, then he was protecting them. There is no doubt in my mind.
This report was contributed by Shimon Prokupecz of CNN, Jamiel Lynch and Jeanne Bonner. Alaa Elasar, Raja Razek Mary Kay Mallonee and Michelle Watson also contributed.