A devastating tragedy unfolded in the heart of Maine as 18 individuals lost their lives, and 13 others were wounded in a mass shooting that rocked the city of Lewiston. The incident has prompted a massive manhunt for the suspected perpetrator, Robert R. Card, a U.S. Army reservist with a troubling history of mental health concerns.
The shootings occurred on the night preceding the grim announcement by Maine Governor Janet Mills. According to authorities, Card, armed with a rifle, indiscriminately attacked patrons at a bowling alley and a bar. The situation was so dire that public school districts in the vicinity canceled classes, and residents were urged to stay indoors.
Governor Mills, speaking at a press conference, expressed the gravity of the situation, stating, “This is a dark day for Maine.” She further emphasized that Card is considered armed and dangerous, and the public should not approach him under any circumstances.
The manhunt led Maine State Police to a white SUV believed to be driven by Card, located in the nearby town of Lisbon. As a result, residents in both Lewiston and Lisbon were advised to remain indoors. Additionally, the town of Bowdoin, where Card resides, was instructed to shelter in place, creating an eerie and somber atmosphere in the affected areas, with streets nearly empty and businesses closed.
A law enforcement bulletin identified Card as a trained firearms instructor at the U.S. Army Reserve base in Saco, Maine. He had reportedly expressed hearing voices and experiencing other mental health issues. Card had previously made threats to shoot up the National Guard base in Saco and was reported to have been committed to a mental health facility during the summer of 2023. The details in the bulletin could not be independently confirmed.
The U.S. Army disclosed that Card was a sergeant and a petroleum supply specialist in the Army Reserve but had never been deployed in combat since enlisting in 2002.
The tragic series of events began shortly before 7 p.m. at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, followed by reports of a shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, approximately three miles away. The impact of the violence left the community in shock, as businesses and residents grappled with the senseless loss.
Jessica Karcher, a resident, revealed that her son Justin Karcher was among the wounded. He was shot in the spine and kidneys and was undergoing surgery. Tragically, he had witnessed the shooting and killing of his father, Jean Karcher, in 2019 during an altercation in a Walmart parking lot.
Lewiston, a former textile hub, is home to around 38,000 people and is situated approximately 35 miles north of Portland, Maine’s largest city.
The incident has raised concerns about gun regulation in Maine. The state has relatively light regulations concerning firearms, with no requirement for a permit to buy or carry a gun. Maine also lacks “red flag” laws that enable law enforcement to temporarily disarm individuals deemed dangerous.
However, recent legal developments have complicated the issue. A federal judge ruled that such “red flag” laws were unconstitutional, following a 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that affirmed an individual’s right to carry weapons in public.
U.S. President Joe Biden has reached out to state officials to offer federal support and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast until Monday in honor of the victims. The tragedy has reignited the debate on gun control, with the White House emphasizing the need to address the presence of “weapons of war” on the streets.
The scale of the incident is particularly striking, as it approaches the annual number of homicides typical in Maine, a state known for its low murder rate. The state has seen an annual fluctuation in homicides, ranging from 16 to 29 since 2012, according to Maine State Police.
The shooting in Maine adds to the concerning trend of mass shootings in the United States, with the Gun Violence Archive reporting 647 such incidents in 2022 and a projected 679 in 2023, highlighting the urgent need for a comprehensive response to address this disturbing phenomenon.
Sources By Agencies