Amid extensive search for suspect in mass killing, residents of Maine remain securely indoors

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Residents in Maine were filled with astonishment and trepidation as they stayed inside their homes for a second night while numerous heavily armed police and FBI agents carried out an extensive search for Robert Card. Card, an Army reservist, allegedly gunned down and took the lives of 18 individuals at a bowling alley and bar, marking it as the worst mass killing in Maine’s history. The search was concentrated on a property owned by one of Card’s relatives, where armed agents surrounded a residence and repeatedly demanded his surrender. The state police reported that despite a thorough search, it remained uncertain whether Card had ever been at that location.

Richard Goddard, a neighbor acquainted with the Card family, disclosed that Robert Card is well acquainted with the area and had grown up there. He described it as Card’s “stomping ground” and mentioned his familiarity with all the hiding spots. Multiple residences were being combed through, and every lead was being pursued in the endeavor to locate Card, who is considered armed and hazardous.

The shootings transpired in Lewiston, approximately 24 kilometers from Bowdoin, which is Maine’s second-largest city. The victims encompassed Bob Violette, a retiree who coached a youth bowling league, and Joe Walker, a bar and grille manager who tragically lost his life while attempting to confront the gunman with a butcher knife. The attacks left the community in a state of astonishment, leading to the closure of schools, offices, and stores as people sought refuge behind locked doors. Law enforcement agencies heightened their presence along the U.S. border with Canada, and public buildings in Portland were shuttered. The ambiance exuded an eerie calmness, with empty streets and Halloween decorations serving as the sole indications of life.

While the search for Card persisted, it came to light that he had undergone a psychiatric evaluation in July due to displaying erratic behavior while serving with his reserve regiment. A bulletin was disseminated to police nationwide, indicating that Card had been institutionalized in a mental health facility for a fortnight over the summer after making threats and hearing voices. Although Maine does not mandate permits for gun ownership, its gun culture is deeply rooted in hunting and sport shooting. The state enacted a law, known as the “yellow flag” law, in 2019, which necessitates law enforcement to request a medical assessment of individuals who are believed to pose a threat prior to attempting to confiscate their firearms.

Governor Janet Mills of Maine pledged to take whatever measures necessary to locate Card and ensure he faces consequences for his actions as the state’s residents grappled with the tragedy. The shock and devastation caused by the shootings reverberated throughout the community, with families mourning the loss of their loved ones and offering prayers for all those impacted. Bates College suspended classes and postponed the inauguration of the school’s first Black president. The shootings served as a stark reminder of the persistent issue of gun violence in the United States, being the 36th mass killing in the country this year.

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