The fugitive allegedly behind Wednesday’s mass shooting could be hiding in an abandoned cabin in Maine, a former FBI agent warned.
A massive manhunt is underway for 40-year-old Robert Card after 18 people were killed and 13 others injured in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2023.
Shortly before 7 p.m., a gunman stormed Lewiston’s Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and opened fire before heading to Schemengees Bar and Grille a few minutes later to do the same, Maine State Police said.
Haunting surveillance footage shows a man aiming at women and children with an AR-15-style assault rifle that appeared to be equipped with a flashlight and scope.
The names of the victims have already been named, including long-time bowling instructor Bob Violette, who bravely died protecting children.
A curfew is still in place in several counties as Card, a U.S. Army reservist and certified firearms instructor, evades their massive search efforts.
Police have surrounded a Bowdoin home believed to belong to Card’s brother and sister-in-law.
Someone repeatedly shouted, “FBI! Open the door!” and several loud bangs were heard.
Card’s abandoned vehicle was found on the Kennebec River, where he may have fled aboard his missing 15-foot boat, authorities said The messenger.
Recent search developments have expanded the danger area, and authorities are beginning to warn residents across the Northeast to keep their eyes open and seek safety if Card is spotted.
He is considered armed and dangerous.
Speaking exclusively to The US Sun, Bobby Chacon, a veteran FBI special agent well versed in manhunts, warned homeowners in Maine to be wary of remote cabins that may be sitting empty.
“It’s starting to get cold in New England and people are closing up their cabins for the winter,” he said.
Chacon said Card could break into an empty house and survive for weeks on canned food and drinks he may have prepared before the alleged crime.
The stretch of river where Card docked his boat is relatively small because it is closed at both ends.
But on the other side of the river there is a densely wooded area that Chacon said could complicate the search if Card successfully penetrates.
“He could use the boat to get over,” he said.
“That’s even more problematic because once he’s in that wooded area, it’s much harder to search those wooded areas.
“You have to bring teams together on the ground… it’s very labor intensive. You have to be practically side by side with people.”
Given his access and skills with firearms, Card said search parties should exercise extreme caution when entering areas with reduced visibility.
“This guy is a firearms instructor, probably a sniper, probably a very good long-range shooter,” said Chacon, now a screenwriter on Criminal Minds.
“When you start cornering him and getting close to him, you start to wonder what other weapon systems he has.”
Despite the danger, Chacon hopes officers can complete their task and bring Card back alive without further injury or casualty.
Frightening red flags
This summer, Card was admitted to a psychiatric facility after he reported hearing voices in his head, Maine law enforcement officials said.
But his family, who are reportedly helping officers track down the suspect, said this was unusual and that he had no history of mental health problems.
“That was an acute episode. That’s not who he is,” said his sister-in-law Katie O’Neill CNN.
For Chacon, this short hospital stay could be the key to tracking down Card and putting an end to the madness.
He said: “I would speak to someone on his assessment team and tell us if he has stated anything like that.”
“Maybe he was talking about running away and going somewhere to clear his head.”
Chacon speculated that Card may have mentioned specific places where he sought peace, as murderers often stay in familiar areas when they don’t want to get caught.
He continued: “I would rely on the advice and guidance of some mental health professionals when it comes to the physical search and tactical decisions that must be made by law enforcement.”
Lewiston is now considered one of the top ten deadliest mass shootings in the United States, with the death toll ranking just behind the massacre in Uvalde, Texas.
On Thursday morning, Maine Gov. Janet Mills called the events a “dark day” for her home state and added that she was in contact with President Joe Biden.
“This city does not deserve this terrible attack on its citizens, their peace of mind and their sense of security,” she said.
“No city does that – no state, no people.”
Maine State Police Col. William G. Ross said eight of the 18 victims have been identified.
Seven victims – one woman and six men – were found in the bowling alley.
An additional eight victims were found dead at the Schememenges Bar and Grille – seven male victims inside the building and one male outside.
Three other people died in local hospitals, Ross said.
Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine, but still only has around 28,000 residents.
The United States ArmyThe Pentagon’s public affairs office confirmed that Card was a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve training as a petroleum supply specialist, which includes transporting and storing fuel for military vehicles and aircraft.
Read more on the Irish Sun
He entered military service in December 2002 and has no combat deployments.