A frantic manhunt continued Thursday morning in the forests of Maine, on the borders of New England (North-East). On Wednesday evening, shortly before 7 p.m., a man allegedly opened fire inside a crowded bowling alley and restaurant in the town of Lewiston, using an AR-15 assault rifle. The provisional toll is appalling: 18 dead and 13 injured.
Maine, this rural state bordering Quebec, has just experienced the worst shooting in its history, which is also the 565th this year in the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive. Until now, the Pine Tree State was an exception, with a population attached to its firearms, hostile to any overly restrictive legislation in this area. It had a homicide rate much lower than the national average: between 16 and 29 murders annually since 2012. The acquisition and carrying of concealed weapons (“concealed carry”) does not require any special permit.
Also read Who is Robert Card, the author of the deadliest shooting of the year in the United States?
The suspect, Robert Card, 40, served as a certified shooting instructor in Saco, 50 miles to the south. Visibly affected by mental illness, he said he heard voices, according to Androscoggin County police cited by NBC News. After threatening to attack the Saco National Guard base, he reportedly spent two weeks in a psychiatric facility this summer. The precise reasons for his action remain unknown at this time.
The shooting began at 6:56 p.m. in Lewiston, a town of 38,000 residents with the second largest French-speaking community after New Orleans. Video surveillance images shared by the police, in order to facilitate the hunt, reveal a man of thin build, trimmed beard, wearing pants and a brown hooded sweatshirt. He enters the Sparetime Recreation bowling, an assault rifle equipped with a telescopic sight and a double magazine, allowing you to fire a good hundred bullets without reloading. This detail could indicate that the man wants to use as much ammunition as possible and has undoubtedly premeditated the massacre he is about to perpetrate. The AR-15 - or equivalent - is identified as a semi-automatic weapon of war, whose projectiles wreak untold havoc on a human body.
The killer then heads towards the Schemengees Bar and Grill, 5 kilometers away, and opens fire randomly in the establishment, which was hosting an “industry night”: - 25% for all bar and restaurant employees the region. Beer was flowing, the screens were showing the opening games of the NBA season (basketball) and many customers were playing cornhole (a game of skill consisting of throwing weighted bags towards a holey board).
Robert Card then vanishes into the darkness. At 10 p.m., his vehicle, a white Subaru Outback, was found abandoned on Route 196 in Lisbon, 7 miles southeast of Lewiston. The hunt resumes. On the roads, illuminated signs encourage local residents to retreat into their homes and lock themselves in. In Lewiston and Lisbon, businesses and schools remain closed until further notice, while the FBI in Boston has sent a team to assist local and federal police, in the event that the cornered fugitive attempts to retreat or to take local residents hostage. At daybreak, patrols knocked on every door, even in the most isolated places.
“I am heartbroken,” said the manager of Schemengees Bar and Grill on the establishment’s Facebook page. I can not find the words. In one second, your world collapses for no reason. We just lost some great people in this city. What meaning do we make of all this? We send our prayers to everyone.” One of his clients, Justin Karcher, finds himself between life and death in the hospital, cut down by four bullets in the kidneys and spine. In 2019, according to his mother, Jean, he had already witnessed the murder of his father, during an altercation in a Walmart supermarket parking lot. The Karcher family has until now defended the inalienable right to bear arms, prescribed by the second amendment to the Constitution. Thursday morning, the most famous writer residing in Maine, Stephen King, specialist in horror novels and supporter of gun control, confided on miles (80 kilometers, Editor's note) from where I live. I went to high school in Lisbon. They're burst killing machines, guys. This is pure madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing people who advocate murder.”