Two days after a shooting that left 18 dead in Maine, US police intensified their search for the perpetrator of the murders across the northeast of the country on Friday.
“A large number of law enforcement personnel, time and effort are devoted 24 hours a day to the search for the main suspect,” Lewiston City Police Chief David St. Pierre said in a press conference Friday morning.
Robert Card, 40, an Army reservist, is accused of opening fire at a bowling alley and a bar-restaurant, killing 18 people and injuring 13 others.
Police officials told CNN that Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder and should be considered “armed and dangerous.”
Police and the FBI were dispatched Friday to several locations, including a creek bed where the suspect’s car was found, and plan to search the depths with sonar and divers.
This Thursday, SWAT teams conducted a search of the last known address associated with Card, police sources told CNN. When crews cleared the house, investigators went in to execute a search warrant for things like computers, notes, weapons and any evidence that might indicate a plan to shoot, according to sources. .
They indicated that “we’re not sure Robert Card is in this house,” and that “we’re just doing our due diligence.”
It seemed that the search was over on Thursday night, when the police appeared in front of a house that according to the neighbor who spoke to this agency, was a member of the suspect’s family.
“Please come out,” the police repeated throughout the night through megaphones, “we want to talk to you.” But the police left without giving any statement to the many journalists at the scene, without finding the suspect.
Drones, helicopters and armored vehicles were deployed in the surrounding area.
Lewiston became a ghost town after its 36,000 residents were ordered by the authorities to confine themselves to their homes due to the danger of the Card.
Schools and businesses closed their doors, and the high school parking lot was occupied by police in uniform and armed to the teeth.
In front of one business, Jeremy Hiltz, a neighbor, put up a banner that read: “Lewiston Strong.”
City residents “now live with a sense of vulnerability that I don’t think we knew” before the tragedy, Hiltz said.
Seven people, one woman and six men, lost their lives in the bowling alley, eight in the bar-restaurant, about 12 minutes away, and finally three were injured who died in the hospital.
Witnesses at the Just-In-Time bowling alley described customers hiding under tables and between machines at the ends of lanes. “I threw myself on top of my daughter, and my mother on top of me,” Riley Dumont described to ABC.
A photo released by police shows a man wearing a brown t-shirt entering the establishment, with a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder.
The authorities identified the identities of the victims, but among those who died in the restaurant “Schemengees” was Joseph Walker, 57, who worked in the establishment, as his father told several American media.
Walker, police told his family, tried to stop the assailant with a kitchen knife before being shot.
A nation ‘in mourning’
“This is a dark day for Maine,” said Janet Mills, the state’s governor, when the high death toll was announced Thursday morning.
President Joe Biden deplored a “sad and senseless” act and ordered the national flag to be flown at half-mast in federal buildings.
“Once again, our country is in mourning,” said the president, once again calling on Congress to ban assault weapons, a point on which Democrats and Republicans have disagreed for decades.
Wednesday’s massacre was the worst in the United States since the Uvalde school shooting in Texas, where a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers in May 2022.
The country is paying a very high price for the proliferation of weapons on its territory and the ease with which citizens have access to them.
Apart from suicides, more than 15,000 people have died due to gun violence since the beginning of the year in the country, according to the non-governmental organization Gun Violence Archive.
Maine is one of the states with the lowest homicide rate per capita. The 18 deaths on Wednesday represent, according to the Everytown association, more than the annual average of murders by firearms in the state.