The suspected shooter in the rampage that ended 18 lives on Wednesday had legally purchased the guns police believe he used in mass killings at a bowling alley and bar he’d previously frequented in Maine.
The 40-year-old Army reservist authorities had been pursuing for days was found dead late Friday. Robert Card’s body was inside a semi-trailer at a recycling center. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.
On Saturday morning, officials provided new information about their investigation into the attacks, sharing a note they’d found Thursday they believe had been left by Card. During the sweeping search for the suspect in rural southern Maine, three of his family members were the first people to come forward and identify Card, of nearby Bowdoin, as the perpetrator of the shootings, Michael Sauschuck, the state public safety commissioner, told reporters.
Officials said Card, was familiar with both the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, where seven people died, and Schemengees Bar & Grille, where eight men died, both in Lewiston. Three more people died in local hospitals.
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The search for the suspected shooter since Wednesday night, prompted shelter-in-place orders as local, state and federal officials searched across wide swaths of the region.
Sauschuck said the note found in Card’s home appeared to be addressed to a loved one and included passcodes for a phone and bank account. Officials are working to get search warrants to access the phone and bank codes.
On Friday, officials focused the manhunt along the Androscoggin River where a white Subaru station wagon belonging to Card was found on a boat ramp about eight miles from Lewiston. A long gun was found inside his car, Sauschuck said.
The Washington Post reported that investigators suspected Card used a .308 rifle in the shootings, though Sauschuck wouldn’t specify the type of rifle found in the car or the other firearms recovered near his body.
At about 7:45 p.m. Friday, officials found the body of the suspected shooter in the back of the trailer at the Maine Recycling Corporation’s overflow parking lot, just southeast of Lewiston in Lisbon near the river. It’s unclear when he died. Sauschuck said it appeared he was wearing the same sweatshirt as when he was seen fleeing the shootings.
This was a tragic two days for the families in Maine who have been devastated by gun violence.
At least eighteen souls brutally slain and more injured, and scores of family and friends praying and experiencing trauma no one ever wants to imagine.
We’re grateful that Lewiston…
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 28, 2023
The owner of the business told officials Card knew the property, which had more than 55 trailers parked across the street from the business, in its overflow lot, which hadn’t been searched. Sauschuck confirmed police had searched the area twice previously where the business is. The owner recommended looking through the trailers full of recycled materials.
A couple of firearms were found on Card, Sauschuck said.
The guns recovered were legally purchased, officials said. Sauschuck said the state had no record of him being forcibly committed to a mental health facility. Card was not on the state’s “yellow flag” list that only allows law enforcement to limit gun ownership, a spokeswoman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office confirmed to USA TODAY.
State officials said they didn’t have information about his status in the Army Reserves, but the Associated Press reported military commanders became concerned about Card’s safety last summer and asked for police to be called. Card was taken to an Army hospital at West Point for an “evaluation.”
On Saturday morning, President Joe Biden called it “a tragic two days” for families in Maine devastated by gun violence.
“At least eighteen souls brutally slain and more injured, and scores of family and friends praying and experiencing trauma no one ever wants to imagine,” Biden said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We’re grateful that Lewiston and surrounding communities are now safe. I thank the brave law enforcement officers who worked around the clock to find this suspect.”
Officials on Saturday said they had opened a family assistance center and a counseling center for residents. A vigil was scheduled for Saturday evening.
He said both businesses in Lewiston were gathering spots that anyone could be been visiting on any given night.
“That wasn’t my night,” he said, and suggested if others are having that same thought, that it could just as easily have been them, “You want to talk to somebody about that.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Maine mass shootings: Note from suspected gunman; ‘tragic,’ says Biden