According to experts, the rural area in the northeast of the USA with forest areas, swamps and rivers makes the search for the suspected perpetrator more difficult – as does the fact that the man knows the region well and has undergone military training.
The US Coast Guard was also looking for the 40-year-old suspect because an escape by boat was not ruled out. There is a state of emergency in the region.
The police warned residents about the fugitive and called on people in several communities not to leave their homes. However, the security authorities do not rule out the possibility that the suspect may have committed suicide.
Two crime scenes, 18 dead, numerous injured
The shooter opened fire on Wednesday evening in a leisure center with bowling alleys and in a barbecue restaurant in the small town of Lewiston – we reported.
He killed seven people at the first crime scene and eight people at the second. Three other victims died in hospital shortly after the crime. Another 13 people were injured. The perpetrator’s motive is currently unknown. A survivor who lost her sister in the bloody crime told CNN: “We were bowling and heard a big bang.” At first she wasn’t sure what was going on. But then she heard several shots. “I ran as far as I could.”
- Video: Shooting in Maine – investigation continues
Lewiston has almost 40,000 residents and is located about 200 kilometers north of Boston on the US east coast. The city is about a 30-minute drive from Bowdoin, the suspect’s hometown. About ten kilometers from Lewiston, the police found the wanted man’s car, a white SUV, on a river near a boat launch. Mike Sauschuck of the Maine Department of Public Safety announced Friday that the riverbank would be combed and divers would be lowered into the water to search for evidence and “possible bodies.” Investigators also believe it is possible that the perpetrator could be dead by now. Sauschuck emphasized, however, that all possible options are being pursued.
The perpetrator completed military service in 2002
Police identified reserve soldier Robert Card as the suspected perpetrator. According to information from the Washington Post, he reported for military service in 2002, but did not complete any combat missions. He studied engineering technology but did not graduate. The newspaper also reported that the man’s behavior seemed strange to colleagues a few months ago. He ended up receiving psychiatric treatment for two weeks and reportedly imagined he was hearing voices.
Sauschuck confirmed that investigators found a note in the man’s home. However, he did not provide any information about the contents. Sauschuck said police were following hundreds of tips from the public and examining “every inch” of the two crime scenes. According to ABC, the suspect’s sister told investigators that she believed her brother was looking for his ex-girlfriend at the bowling alley and barbecue restaurant. The two of them used to be there often.
Hundreds of police officers have been combing the area since Wednesday looking for the man. On Thursday evening (local time), numerous police cars arrived in front of the suspect’s house in the small town of Bowdoin and officers searched several properties. The coast guard also searched for the shooter – but so far without success.
Strong military training
The search is also very difficult because the sparsely populated area is heavily wooded and swampy. Former FBI agent Rob D’Amico told CNN that the fugitive, as a local, knew his way around the forest very well. Analyst Jonathan Wackrow told the broadcaster that the man also had extensive military training and knew how to remain unnoticed. “All of this is a challenge for the security forces.”
In four communities, citizens were still asked not to leave their homes on Friday. Several schools were temporarily closed and shops also remained closed. Sauschuck emphasized that the order is constantly being reassessed, but will remain in effect for the time being for safety reasons. “We’re working as hard as we can, as quickly as we can, with as many resources as we can to get some sort of closure here,” he said. “But we have to do it right.” The investigators “did not allow themselves to be rushed” in their work.
In the USA, rampages and fatal shootings are sadly part of everyday life. Firearms are easily available there and are widely circulated. Bloody attacks with many victims – at schools, in supermarkets, nightclubs and at major events – regularly shock the country. This repeatedly leads to discussions about tightening gun laws, but so far without any real result. As a rule, stricter gun laws fail because of the Republicans and the powerful gun lobby.
- Localization: This is where the bloodshed occurred
Maine is one of the smaller US states: 1.3 million people live there in an area the size of Hungary. Large-scale attacks with firearms occur much less frequently in Maine than in other parts of the country. According to the non-governmental organization Gun Violence Archive, the attack in Lewiston was the deadliest gun attack in the United States this year.
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