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Residents in Lewiston, Maine and surrounding areas are in their second full day of sheltering in place as law enforcement continues to search for the man suspected of fatally shooting 18 people and killing 18 people. ‘injuring 13 others at a bowling alley and restaurant Wednesday evening.
Authorities describe Robert Card, 40, as armed and dangerous, and ask residents not to approach him. They encourage people to report anything suspicious to 911 and share any potential evidence through a digital tip line.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the country are working “literally around the clock” to try to apprehend Card and keep the community safe, said Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre, during a press briefing Friday morning.
He urged residents to be patient, emphasizing that “there are many, many moving parts and coordination of efforts involved by multiple agencies.”
Investigators continue to search Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-in-Time Recreation to recover all available evidence, said Mike Sauschuck, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety.
As part of this effort, law enforcement officers also write affidavits for digital media, including phones and computers. Sauschuck said police are investigating more than 3,500 tips and leads from across the community, noting that their credibility “varies widely.”
Teams are physically searching multiple locations for evidence that could lead them to Card, with Sauschuck emphasizing that investigators have “many irons in the fire.” One emerging focus of those efforts is the area near a boat ramp where authorities found a vehicle registered to Card.
More than 36 hours after the shooting, authorities appear to be settling in for the long haul, telling reporters they plan to hold briefings every morning and some afternoons if necessary. Sauschuck acknowledged that time is running out.
“I think every minute that this happens, we’re more and more worried, because what’s the next thing that’s going to happen?” he said. “And we understand that, and that’s why we’re working 24/7 to try to bring this individual to justice and try to bring closure to the overall safety of our community.”
But he also expressed confidence that law enforcement can achieve it.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will take this individual into custody, one way or another,” he added.
Maine Department of Public Safety
Divers will search river near where Card’s car was found
Officials used a large poster of various aerial maps to highlight the areas investigators will search Friday, while emphasizing that the four locations on display were by no means an exhaustive list.
“It’s not an intention to remain secret,” Sauschuck said. “We’ll be everywhere.”
One of Friday’s priority areas is the area surrounding the Lisbon boat ramp, where Card’s white Subaru was found.
Sauschuck said dive teams from several states will use sonar and other technology to check the Androscoggin River for evidence, including “potential bodies.” He nevertheless stressed that investigators did not have solid evidence to suggest that the suspect’s body was in the river.
Helicopters will fly over the river to identify areas where divers should focus, depending on visibility.
He said Brookfield Power, the company that operates two dams on the river, is cooperating with investigators and slowing the currents to make the search easier.
Ssauschuck said he could imagine teams eventually moving inland and inland across the river to conduct ground searches. In the meantime, there will also be a “line search” in the area near the boat ramp of officers looking for evidence along the shoreline.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District — which is next to Lewiston — in Congress, said Morning edition that Card’s search is “all-out,” involving more than 300 law enforcement officers from across the country.
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She spoke Thursday with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about federal agents sent to the region, including, she said, the team that helped locate the Boston Marathon bomber (after a four-day manhunt in 2013).
Pingree says those on the ground include a mix of traditional small-town police officers accustomed to being in the woods looking for lost hikers and hunters, as well as “serious out-of-town professionals who are unfortunately accustomed to this type of incident. research.”
Maine is the most forested state in the country, Pingree points out. It is home to some 17.7 million acres of forest.
“It’s an easy place to get lost in the woods, and it’s a hard place to find someone,” she said.
Those efforts could be further complicated by the start of deer hunting season Saturday. Sauschuck said investigators correspond with local leaders to determine how to protect forested research sites from hunters.
Questions remain about Card’s motivations and mental health
Lewiston and surrounding areas remain under stay-at-home orders as searches continue. School districts and many local businesses are closed.
Pingree said much of the state is on pause, both out of fear and grief.
“There is nothing more frightening than the idea that there is someone who has already committed a massacre and still has weapons,” she said.
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
Authorities say they believe Card was armed, but have not provided details. Surveillance video from the night of the shooting appears to show Card holding a semi-automatic rifle.
It is unclear how he came into possession of the weapon, a question of great concern in light of reports that he had recently been suffering from mental health issues.
Card, an Army reservist, was at a National Guard training center in New York this summer when officials became concerned about erratic behavior. They called police and took him to the hospital for evaluation, although it’s unclear what treatment, if any, he received.
Authorities declined Friday to say whether law enforcement had been made aware of any warnings about Card’s behavior that would have triggered Maine’s “yellow flag” law. They also declined to say whether Card’s family was cooperating with the investigation.
Authorities warn against any speculation
Law enforcement officers swarmed the perimeter of Card’s Bowdoin home Thursday evening, monitoring the property with drones and issuing warnings through a bullhorn for about two hours.
While the house was the subject of intense media attention, public safety officials clarified that they were not sure if Card was in the house, but that loudspeaker announcements are the norm during execution of search warrants.
Sauschuck reiterated Friday that just because teams are in a particular spot doesn’t mean they expect Card to be there too, but that they approach those situations as if he could be.
Sauschuck said it is standard operating procedure and good practice to give notices before executing search warrants.
And he sought to temper expectations that any police activity seen in the area should be seen as a sign of hope. If a helicopter flies over a building, for example, that doesn’t mean the suspect is inside, he said.
“There’s a lot going on here, but what matters to us is the safety of our community, the safety of our residents. We care about every single one of them,” Sauschuck said.
“We will continue to fight on their behalf to bring this individual to justice because we know this has an impact on starting the healing process.”