By Cara Tabachnick
Updated on: October 28, 2023 / 12:01 AM / CBS News
The body of the suspect was found by law enforcement near a recycling plant in the Lisbon area, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Mike Sauschuck, commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a news conference Friday night.
Sauchuck said the body was located at about 7:45 p.m. local time near the Androscoggin River in Lisbon, a town about 8 miles southwest of Lewiston. The suspect’s vehicle, a white Subaru Outback, had earlier been found abandoned by a boat launch on the river.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills told reporters that she called President Biden to inform him of the suspect’s death.
“Like many people, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone,” Mills said.
In his own statement late Friday night, President Biden called it “a tragic two days – not just for Lewiston, Maine, but for our entire country.”
“Americans should not have to live like this,” Mr. Biden said. “I once again call on Republicans in Congress to fulfill their obligation to keep the American people safe. Until that day comes, I will continue to do everything in my power to end this gun violence epidemic. The Lewiston community – and all Americans – deserve nothing less.”
Hundreds of state and local police and federal agents had been involved in the manhunt since the shootings Wednesday night.
For several hours Thursday night, heavily armed police had surrounded a house in Bowdoin, a small town where the suspect was from, about 35 minutes from Lewiston, but they completed their search there without finding him.
On Friday, police announced divers were conducting underwater searches near the location where his vehicle was found abandoned.
Authorities had recovered a weapon from the suspect’s abandoned vehicle, law enforcement sources told CBS News’ Pat Milton and Robert Legare earlier Friday. The firearm was legally purchased, a law enforcement source confirmed. It wasn’t clear if the recovered weapon was used in the shooting.
CBS News had also learned that investigators had located the suspect’s cellphone and were trying to crack it and pore over his online activity, including text messages and emails, hoping to find clues as to his motive in the shootings.
The deadly rampage began a little before 7 p.m. Wednesday night when police received a 911 call about a shooting at Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley in Lewiston. Police later said six men and one woman there died of apparent gunshot wounds.
Just over 10 minutes later, at 7:08 p.m., police were called to the scene of another shooting a few miles away, at Schemengees Bar and Grille. Eight people there were killed, police said. Three other people died at area hospitals.
Police said the gunman fled in the aftermath of the shootings and they warned that he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”
The suspect, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, had recently reported experiencing mental health issues, including hearing voices, and threatened to shoot up a military base in Saco, a law enforcement bulletin seen by CBS News said. In July, he started “behaving erratically,” a New York Army National Guard spokesperson told CBS News, and he was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks.
Several communities in the area spent the days since the shooting under shelter-in-place warnings, with schools canceled and residents urged to stay indoors. The shelter-in-place orders were lifted earlier Friday.
“For me it was incomprehensible that this can happen in Lewiston, Maine,” Mayor Carl Sheline told CBS News Boston.
“Our city is facing this incredible loss and I am completely broken for our city, and my heart really goes out to the victims and their families right now,” Sheline said.
Investigators were looking into whether the suspect may have been targeting a specific individual, who is believed to be a current or former girlfriend, two U.S. officials and a former high-ranking official told CBS News. It wasn’t clear if she was at either of the two locations that were attacked.
The victims of the mass shooting ranged in age from 14 to 76, the medical examiner said. They included a bar manager who tried to stop the gunman; a bowling instructor who was teaching kids; a beloved father; a 14-year-old and his dad; and several people taking part in a cornhole tournament for deaf athletes.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that “although we are grateful that the suspect in this case no longer poses a threat, we know that nothing can bring back the lives he stole or undo the terror he inflicted.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine issued a statement thanking “the brave first responders who worked night and day to find this killer.”
— Julia Kimani, Jeff Pegues, Andres Triay, Robert Legare and Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.