Murder warrant issued for Maine shooting suspect after car abandoned by river

This vehicle’s registration led to the identification of Robert Card, who is still at large

Kelly Rissman
Thursday 26 October 2023 18:38 BST
Maine State Police reveal the identification of mass shooter discovered by a nearby vehicle

A warrant has been issued for Maine mass shooting suspect Robert Card, 40, after a car that was registered to him was located in a boat landing in Maine.

Maine State Police said at Thursday’s press conference that 18 people were left dead after a mass shooting that began at a bowling alley called Just-in-Time Recreation in Lewiston on Wednesday night and extended to Schemengees Bar and Grill, just four miles away. It marked America’s deadliest mass shooting this year.

Despite the death toll of 18, Maine State Police Colonel William Ross said that Mr Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder because 10 people have yet to be identified. The number of counts will increase as those identifications are made.

Colonel Ross also said that police discovered a vehicle near Pejepscot boat landing in Lisbon near the Androscoggin River. This vehicle’s registration led to the identification of Mr Card. No details about this vehicle were provided at the press conference.

However, the Lewiston Maine Police Department posted a photo of a vehicle that appears to be white or silver. “It is believed that the front bumper may be painted black,” the department wrote. WMUR reported the car was a white Subaru.

Hours later, the state police wrote that a “vehicle of interest” was identified in Lisbon, and prompted a shelter-in-place advisory.

Vehicle identified by Lewiston police

Separately, WPRI reported that Massachusetts State Police are seeking another vehicle that the department believes is connected to the mass shooting. This vehicle is a Blue Chevy Suburban with Maine plate 6625ZD, the outlet reported. If confirmed, this detail gives rise to speculation that he could have driven off in a separate car.

The Independent has reached out to the Massachusetts State Police.

On Thursday afternoon, Massachusetts State Police Spokesman David Procopio told Boston 25 that the Chevy Suburban alert was “unsubstantiated.”

Although the department was aware of the alert for the car, “that alert originated in New Hampshire from a civilian motorist who reported to police in that state that she observed an occupant of that vehicle who resembled fugitive CARD. At this time that sighting, and any connection of that vehicle to CARD, is unsubstantiated,” Mr Procopio said in a statement.

As of mid-day Thursday, the 40-year-old suspect is still at large. Colonel Ross called Mr Card “armed and dangerous” and warned he “should not be approached.” He stressed that the search for Mr Card is active and ongoing, adding that there is a “coordinated effort to apprehend this individual.”

The shooting

On 25 October, at 6.56pm, a 911 call was made about a male firing shots at Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley on Mollison Way in Lewiston, police said.

Moments later, at 7.08pm, multiple 911 calls reported an active shooter at Schemengees Bar and Grill on Lincoln Street, just four miles from the bowling alley.

Officials reported that 18 people are now dead — seven were killed at the bowling alley and eight were killed at the restaurant. Three people who were initially transferred to nearby hospitals later died, bringing the gruesome total to 18. Thirteen others were injured in the rampage.

Who is Robert Card?

Photos of Mr Card showed him carrying what appears to be an assault-style rifle and wearing pants with “bulging” pockets, which John Miller, chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst for CNN, said suggested that he could be carrying extra ammunition.

Mr Card, 40, served as a firearms instructor in the US Army Reserve. As a Sgt 1st class and Petroleum Supply Specialist, he joined in 2002 and has had no combat deployments.

He also recently disclosed mental health issues, citing experiences of auditory hallucinations including hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, the Associated Press reported. The outlet reported that Mr Card had been taken by police in July for evaluation after acting erratically at West Point.

‘An acute episode of mental health’

Katie Card, the wife of Robert Card’s brother, told The Daily Beast that relatives have been messaging the suspect, urging him to surrender to police.

She said that she has known the suspect for her “whole life,” adding that “he is quiet but the most loving, hardworking, and kind person that I know. But in the past year, he had an acute episode of mental health, and it’s been a struggle.”

Ms Card shared that the suspect recently started wearing hearing aids for his hearing loss. Ever since, he has claimed that he has heard others speaking ill of him, including at the bowling alley and restaurant where he is accused of shooting dozens.

“He truly believed he was hearing people say things,” she added. “This all just happened within the last few months.”

She said he would “get mad” when family told him the voices were just in his head. Since his stay at a mental health facility this past summer, “things have kind of gone downhill recently,” Mr Card’s sister-in-law divulged.

“We tried to listen to him and tell him that nobody was talking about him,” she added. “Yesterday, as the story was unfolding, we prayed that Rob had nothing to do with this. But when we heard the two places where the shooting happened, my husband rushed home.”

The community response

“This is a dark day for Maine,” Gov Janet Mills said at a Thursday press conference. She said that she and President Joe Biden have ordered all US and Maine flags to be lowered to half-staff for next 5 days.

“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,” the governor added.

Lewiston, Lisbon, Bowdoin and Androscoggin County are under shelter-in-place orders as the manhunt is underway.

Police were stationed at the borders of New Hampshire border, CBS News reported, while Connecticut and Massachusetts state police departments were on alert for Mr Card, WFSB reported.

Just-in-Time Recreation posted a somber message on its Facebook page in the aftermath of the shooting: “None of this seems real, but unfortunately it is. We are devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night. There are no words to fix this or make it better. We praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”

Schemengees Bar and Grill also wrote: “My heart is crushed. I am at a loss for words. In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason. We loss great people in this community. How can we make any sense of this. Sending out prayers to everyone.”

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