Lewiston, US, Oct 28 (EFE) – The body of Robert Card, suspect in Wednesday’s shootings that killed 18 people and injured 13, was found inside a recycling truck at the plant where he worked, Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck confirmed.
Card died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but the commissioner did not say when or where, as more details will be released after the autopsy.
The assault rifle he used to shoot three dozen people at a bowling alley and a restaurant was found in the car he allegedly fled in, which was abandoned on a pier in the city of Lisbon, neighboring Lewiston.
The body was found around 7:45 pm local time in a truck parked in an auxiliary parking lot the company uses when the main lot is full, which is connected by a path to the place where the car was parked. The facility, which has about 55 or 60 trucks, had been checked twice.
Two weapons were found next to the body.
A note found during the investigation was addressed by Card to a “loved one,” Sauschuck said, and while not an explicit suicide note, it contained access codes to his bank accounts and a cell phone.
In a statement, the company, Maine Recycling Corporation, said Card had worked as a driver for a year and left voluntarily last spring, so he was not fired, as was initially thought.
Mental health as possible motive
News of the body’s discovery began leaking to the media last night around 9 pm local time, and state police confirmed it in a press conference an hour later.
Sauschuck could not say why Card, a 40-year-old reserve soldier who spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital over the summer, attacked the chosen locations, the Schemengees Bar and Grille and the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley.
Although it’s unclear if he had a prearranged plan, Sauschuck believes there is “some connection between the two locations,” which are popular in the community and where Card had likely been before.
Sauschuck said the deceased reportedly heard voices, suffered from paranoia, was prone to conspiracy theories and felt people were talking about him.
“There’s clearly a mental health component to this,” he explained.
Still, because he had voluntarily entered a psychiatric facility, rather than being involuntarily committed by authorities, no protocol was activated that could have taken away the weapons he acquired over the years, including in the days leading up to the massacre.
Maine does not have a “red flag” rule that allows anyone to alert authorities to the danger posed by a person with guns and have those guns preemptively removed.
In its place is the “yellow flag,” which requires several bureaucratic steps before a dangerous person’s guns can be taken away.
The end of two days of tension
On Friday, after the body was found and before the news was made public, the families of the 18 deceased were notified, as well as those of the suspect, who lived in the neighboring town of Bowdoin, where police conducted several searches.
The names of the 18 victims, two women and 16 men between the ages of 14 and 76, were also released.
The discovery ends two days of tension in Lewiston and neighboring towns, where a large part of the population stayed at home for safety.
It also ends an intense air, land and water search that involved hundreds of local and state police officers, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Authorities have set up a meeting place for families in Lewiston, with a total ban on the press, and a nearby hotel is offering psychological help to residents who need it.
The mayor reported that a vigil will be held on Sunday afternoon to remember those who died.
The event has shocked Lewiston, a city of about 38,000 inhabitants, the second most populous in the state of Maine and the deadliest so far this year in the United States. EFE