LEWISTON – Maine police searched for a United States Army reservist yesterday wanted for murder after 18 people were killed and 13 were wounded in shooting attacks at a bowling alley and a bar in the city of Lewiston the previous night.
In an expanding manhunt, police fanned out across southern Maine with an arrest warrant for their main suspect, Robert R. Card, a US Army reservist who law enforcement said had been committed to a mental health facility over the summer. They circulated photographs of a bearded man in a brown hooded sweatshirt and jeans at one of the crime scenes armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.
Public school districts in the area cancelled classes yesterday and police urged residents to stay indoors.
“This is a dark day for Maine,” Governor Janet Mills said at a press conference. “Card is considered armed and dangerous and police advise that Maine people should not approach him under any circumstances.”
Maine State Police found a white SUV they believe Card drove to the town of Lisbon, about seven miles (11 km) to the southeast, and urged people to remain indoors in both Lewiston and Lisbon. Early Thursday, police also told residents in the town of Bowdoin, about 12 miles east of Lewiston, to shelter in place. Card lives in Bowdoin, according to public records.
There was an eerie quiet in Lewiston and Lisbon in the morning, with almost no cars on the roads and just a few people outside. Many downtown businesses appeared to be closed.
A Maine law enforcement bulletin identified Card, 40, as a trained firearms instructor at the US Army Reserve base in Saco, Maine, who recently said he had been hearing voices and had other mental health issues.
He threatened to shoot up the National Guard base in Saco and was “reported to have been committed to mental health facility for two weeks during summer 2023 and subsequently released,” according to the bulletin from the Maine Information & Analysis Centre, a unit of Maine State Police. Reuters could not confirm the details reported in the bulletin.
The US Army said Card was a sergeant and a petroleum supply specialist in the Army Reserve who had never been deployed in combat since enlisting in 2002.
The attacks began shortly before 7 p.m. at the the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, where one female patron and six males were shot dead, police said, without giving the victims’ ages. A short time later, they received reports of a shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, about three miles (5 km) away. Seven males were fatally shot dead there, police said. Three victims who were taken to hospitals later died of their injuries.
“In a split second your world gets turn upside down for no good reason,” Schemengees posted on its Facebook page. “How can we make any sense of this.”
Jessica Karcher said one of the wounded was her son Justin Karcher, who was shot in the spine and kidneys and was in surgery. He witnessed his father, Jean Karcher, being shot and killed in 2019 during an altercation in a Walmart parking lot, according to Lewiston’s Sun Journal newspaper.
Lewiston is a former textile hub about 35 miles (56 km) north of Maine’s largest city, Portland, and home to about 38,000 people. (Reuters)