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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Suspect in Maine mass shooting is dead, official says

A Lewiston Strong sign is seen after two mass shootings that occurred on Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine. Police are actively searching for a suspect, Army reservist Robert Card, who allegedly killed 18 people in a mass shooting at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jenna Russell and Michael Levenson New York Times

LEWISTON, Maine – The man suspected of killing 18 people and injuring 13 others in a shooting at a bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston on Wednesday night was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday, according to officials briefed on the matter, ending a sweeping search that forced thousands of residents throughout the region to remain in their homes.

The body of the man, Robert R. Card II, 40, was found at a recycling center where he used to work, the officials said.

The hunt for Card had extended across much of a largely rural state with many potential hiding places, producing an atmosphere of high anxiety as helicopters whirred over farms and forests, police cruisers roared along rural roads and divers plunged into the chilly waters of the Androscoggin River.

Before his body was found, authorities had warned residents to prepare for a prolonged search, with heavily armed officers, armored vehicles, aircraft and dive teams scouring the region. Earlier on Friday, Lewiston’s police chief, David St. Pierre, had called it a “tense and trying time” for the city of nearly 40,000.

Commissioner Michael J. Sauschuck, of the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Friday that investigators had found “a note at one of these residences” tied to Card but would not discuss its contents. Police, he said, had received more than 500 tips.

It had been a day of stop-and-start searches before Card’s body was found.

At one point Friday, officers swarmed a farm in Lisbon, about 8 miles southeast of Lewiston, after a man said he heard what sounded like a gunshot. Later, they converged on a property at the end of a wooded dead-end road in nearby Durham. But there was no sign of Card at either location.

The discovery meant that businesses in Lewiston could reopen and people could once again venture outside without fear of running into a man authorities had warned should be considered armed and dangerous. Bates College, in downtown Lewiston, had also been on lockdown.

Wednesday’s rampage began just before 7 p.m., authorities said, when a man carrying a semiautomatic rifle walked into Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley where dozens of children and parents and league members were playing, and began firing.

About 12 minutes later, police received 911 calls for another shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille, about 4 miles away, where people were playing cornhole and billiards. When the shooting was done, 18 people had been killed and 13 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since May 2022, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

On Friday evening, before the discovery of the body, officials released the names of the victims who were killed Wednesday night and showed their photographs on a screen at Lewiston City Hall. They ranged in age from 14 to 76.

They included Bryan MacFarlane, 41, and Josh Seal, 36, who were part of a group of deaf people who reveled in their Wednesday night cornhole games at the bar, their families said.

“Some of them were really passionate about the competition, but really, it was just an opportunity for deaf folks to hang out together, apart from the hearing world, where they have to code switch constantly,” said Elizabeth Seal, 35, Seal’s wife, who is also deaf and signed through an interpreter in an interview. “To be together and communicate with your people in your language , it is priceless.”

Josh Seal worked as an American Sign Language interpreter with the Pine Tree Society, a nonprofit that supports Maine residents with disabilities. During the coronavirus pandemic, he became a recognizable figure in the state as he provided interpretation at daily briefings by Dr. Nirav Shah, who was then Maine’s director of disease control and prevention.

Behind the scenes, his wife said, Seal worked to establish a summer camp program for deaf children in Maine, Dirigo Experience.

She said she hopes the camp her husband started will be one of his legacies, benefiting their children and others. “I hope it will continue,” she said. “In fact, I’m going to make sure of it.”

MacFarlane, 41, took pride in his job as a truck driver, loved hockey and had a tattoo of a fish on his leg, said his mother, Janette Randazzo. His death, she said, made her part of a group no one wants to join: “We’re in a club now – the families of mass shooting victims.”

Little was known about what might have motivated the shooting.

Military officials said that Card was a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve, assigned to an infantry regiment in Saco, Maine, and had enlisted in 2002. He had no combat deployments and served as a petroleum supply specialist, shipping and storing vehicle and aircraft fuel.

Investigators were looking into a run-in Card had with officials during a recent visit to Camp Smith, a National Guard training facility not far from West Point in New York, a senior law enforcement official said on condition on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the incident. The official said that Card was later evaluated at a mental health facility.