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Suspect in the Maine mass shooting has been found dead, police say

Maine Commissioner of Public Safety Mike Sauschuck speaks during a news conference Friday night in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
Matt Rourke
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AP
Maine Commissioner of Public Safety Mike Sauschuck speaks during a news conference Friday night in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.

Updated October 27, 2023 at 10:00 PM ET

The police department in Winthrop, Maine, posted this tonight on Facebook: "We have just learned that the suspect in the Lewiston shooting has been found deceased. Thank you everyone for your cooperation in the last few days."

The Maine Department of Public Safety said further details would come at a news conference at 10 p.m. ET at Lewiston City Hall.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. The earlier story continues below.

The shelter in place order issued in Lewiston, Maine, and the surrounding area was lifted on Friday as law enforcement continued to search for the man suspected of fatally shooting 18 people and wounding 13 others at a bowling alley and restaurant on Wednesday night.

"This is not to say the crisis is over," Mike Sauschuck, commissioner for the state's Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference earlier Friday.

Hunting will remain prohibited in some areas beginning Saturday. Those areas include Lewiston, where the attack took place; Lisbon, where police found the suspect's car; Bowdoin, where the suspect lived; and Monmouth, where some of the suspect's family lives, Sauschuck added.

The families of all 18 victims have been notified. The office of Maine's Chief Medical Examiner said the youngest victim, Aaron Young, was 14 and the oldest, Robert E. Violette, was 76.

The state of Maine on Friday released photos of the 18 victims killed Wednesday in the mass shooting in Lewiston.
/ Maine Department of Public Safety
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Maine Department of Public Safety
The state of Maine on Friday released photos of the 18 victims killed Wednesday in the mass shooting in Lewiston.

Meanwhile, the suspect, 40-year-old Robert Card, remains at large. Authorities described him as armed and dangerous, and asked residents not to approach him. They are encouraging people to report anything suspicious to 911 and share any potential evidence through a digital tip line.

The boat launch search in Libson, near where Card's white Subaru was found, will continue into Saturday, Sauschuck said. More divers, both from in and out of state, are expected to help with the search.

Investigators are continuing to search Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-in-Time Recreation to recover all available evidence.

As part of that effort, law enforcement officers are also drafting affidavits for digital media, including phones and computers. Sauschuck said police are investigating 3,500-plus tips and leads from around the community, noting that their credibility "varies greatly."

Teams are physically searching multiple locations for evidence that might lead them to Card, with Sauschuck stressing that investigators have "many irons in the fire." One emerging focus of those efforts is the area near a boat launch where officials found a vehicle registered in Card's name.

Law enforcement search an area in Monmouth, Maine, on Friday in the aftermath of a mass shooting in nearby Lewiston.
Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Law enforcement search an area in Monmouth, Maine, on Friday in the aftermath of a mass shooting in nearby Lewiston.

In the 48 hours after the shootings, authorities appear to be settling in for the long haul, telling reporters that they plan to hold briefings every morning and some afternoons as needed. Sauschuck acknowledged that the clock is ticking.

"I think that every minute that this goes on we're more and more concerned, because what's the next thing that's gonna happen?" he said. "And we understand that, and that's why we're working 24/7 to try to bring this individual to justice and try to bring some closure and overall safety to our community."

But he also expressed confidence that law enforcement can do that.

"There's no question in my mind we'll bring this individual into custody, one way or the other," he added.

A map displayed by Lewiston law enforcement official of the boat ramp, marked by a red dot, at the Androscoggin River where a car registered to the suspect was found.
/ Maine Department of Public Safety
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Maine Department of Public Safety
A map displayed by Lewiston law enforcement official of the boat ramp, marked by a red dot, at the Androscoggin River where a car registered to the suspect was found.

Divers will search the river near where Card's car was found

Officials used a large poster of various aerial maps to highlight areas that investigators will be searching on Friday, though stressed that the four locations on display were by no means an exhaustive list.

"It's not mean to be secretive," Sauschuck said. "We'll be all over the place."

Alongside the boat launch in Lisbon, teams of divers from multiple states will use sonar and other technologies to check the Androscoggin River for evidence, including "potential bodies," Sauschuck said. Still, he stressed that investigators do not have firm evidence to suggest the suspect's body is in the river.

Helicopters will fly above the river to identify which areas divers should focus on, based on visibility.

He added that Brookfield Power, the company that operates two dams on the river, is cooperating with investigators and slowing the currents to help with the search.

Ssauschuck said he can envision teams eventually moving inland and to the land on the other side of the river to conduct ground searches. In the meantime, there will also be a "line search" in the area near the boat launch of officers looking for evidence along the shoreline.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's First District — which is next to Lewiston — in Congress, told Morning Edition that the search for Card is "all-out," involving more than 300 law enforcement officers from across the country.

Law enforcement officials conduct a manhunt for mass shooting suspect Robert Card in Monmouth, Maine, on Friday.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Law enforcement officials conduct a manhunt for mass shooting suspect Robert Card in Monmouth, Maine, on Friday.

She spoke with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday about the federal officers being sent into the area, which she says include the team that helped locate the Boston Marathon bomber (after a four-day manhunt in 2013).

Pingree says those on the ground include a mix of traditional, small-town police who are used to being in the woods looking for lost hikers and hunters, as well as "the serious professionals from out of town who unfortunately are used to these kinds of searches."

Maine is the most-forested state in the nation, Pingree points out. It is home to some 17.7 million acres of forest.

"It's an easy place to be lost in the woods, and it's a hard place to find somebody," she says.

Questions remain about Card's motive and mental health

Pingree said much of the state is on pause, out of both fear and grief.

"There's nothing more frightening than the idea that someone is out there who's already done a mass killing and still possesses weapons," she said.

A sign on a closed storefront in Lewiston, Maine, offers support for a community on lockdown on Friday.
Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
A sign on a closed storefront in Lewiston, Maine, offers support for a community on lockdown on Friday.

Authorities say they believe Card to be armed, though have not offered specifics. Surveillance video from the night of the shooting appears to show Card holding a semiautomatic rifle.

It's not clear how he gained possession of the weapon, a question on the minds of many in light of reports that he had recently been dealing with mental health issues.

Card, an Army reservist, was at a National Guard training facility in New York over the summer when officials there became concerned about erratic behavior. They called the police and transported him to a hospital for evaluation, though it's not clear what if any treatment he received.

Authorities on Friday declined to say whether law enforcement had been notified of warnings about Card's behavior that would have triggered Maine's "yellow flag" law. They also declined to say whether Card's family was cooperating with the investigation.

Authorities caution against making assumptions

Law enforcement officers swarmed the perimeter of Card's home in Bowdoin on Thursday night, surveilling the property with drones and blaring warnings through a bullhorn over the course of some two hours.

As the house came under intense media focus, public safety officials clarified that they did not know for sure whether Card was in the house, but that loudspeaker announcements are standard when executing search warrants.

Sauschuck reiterated on Friday that just because teams are at a particular location doesn't mean they expect Card to be there too, but they approach those situations as if he could be.

Sauschuck said it's standard operating procedure and best practice to give notifications before executing search warrants.

And he sought to temper expectations that any police activity noted in the area should be taken as a sign of hope. If a helicopter is hovering over a building, for example, it doesn't mean the suspect is inside, he said.

"There's a lot of stuff going on here, but what matters to us is the safety of our community, the safety of our residents. We care about each and every one of them," Sauschuck said.

"We're going to continue to fight on their behalf to bring this individual to justice because we know that has an impact on starting the healing process."
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
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