LEWISTON, Maine (Reuters) -The man suspected of killing 18 people and wounding 13 in a shooting rampage in Lewiston, Maine, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, ending a 48-hour manhunt that followed the most lethal episode of gun violence in the state’s history.
The body of Robert R. Card, 40, was discovered in the woods near the neighboring town of Lisbon Falls, near where police found his abandoned vehicle shortly after the shooting spree on Wednesday night.
“He is dead,” Maine Governor Janet Mills told a news conference, thanking the hundreds of officers from various agencies involved in the search.
“Like many people, I am breathing a sign of relief tonight, knowing that Robert Card is no longer a threat to anyone … Now is the time to heal,” Mills said.
Card died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Mike Sauschuck, Maine’s Department of Public Safety commissioner.
Officials said the U.S. Army reservist opened fire in a bowling alley and then a bar minutes later on Wednesday night.
The shootings and prolonged manhunt convulsed the normally bustling but serene community of Lewiston, a former textile hub and the second-most populous city in Maine.
The town lies on the banks of the Androscoggin River about 35 miles (56 km) north of the state’s largest city, Portland, and nearly as far southwest of Maine’s capital, Augusta.
Card, an Army Reserve sergeant from the nearby town of Bowdoin, has been described by authorities as a trained firearms instructor who served as a petroleum supply specialist when on duty at the military reserve base in Saco, Maine.
Law enforcement officials also said he had a history of mental illness and was committed to a psychiatric facility for two weeks during the summer of 2023, after which he was released.
Within hours of Wednesday night’s bloodshed, police circulated surveillance camera photos from one of the crime scenes of a bearded man wearing a brown, hooded sweatshirt and jeans and carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.
Meanwhile, hundreds of officers from an array of agencies ranging from local police and sheriff’s deputies to the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard joined the search. Canadian authorities, including its border officers, were on alert.
The initial trail of clues led to Lisbon, about 7 miles (11 km) to the southeast of Lewiston, where Maine State Police found a white SUV they believed Card used to make his getaway and parked at a boat launch on the river. Public records showed he owned at least one vessel made by Sea-Doo, a company known for its jet ski-style personal watercraft.
As part of their search for Card, police trawled the waters of the Androscoggin River with divers and sonar on Friday, and sent teams of officers door-to-door in neighborhood canvasses seeking additional clues and possible eyewitnesses.
Earlier on Friday, Maine State Police lifted an order that had kept tens of thousands of people in their homes while the manhunt continued.