LEWISTON — Tricia Asselin laughed as she scattered the pins at the crowded Just-In-Time Recreation alley Wednesday night where two bowling leagues had gathered for a night of friendly competition.  

Then a crash sounded – one that didn’t come from the lanes.

Her friend Chad Hopkins turned to face the source of the noise and found himself just 12 yards from a man adjusting a long, black rifle. He thought about charging the man but decided he’d never make it in time.

Instead, he turned to the Apple Valley bowling league members who filled the first 10 lanes and shouted, “Get out! There’s a shooter.” 

The deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2023 and the worst in Maine’s history had begun. Asselin, an unidentified Winthrop High School freshman, his father and 15 others were dead by Thursday morning. 

Details are slowly emerging about the two shootings that claimed the lives of 18 people and injured 13 more in Lewiston Wednesday night. Three people remain in critical condition. Police have released little about a sweeping search for the Bowdoin man they believe is responsible for the carnage, which left the state paralyzed as schools and businesses remained closed Thursday and residents took cover indoors.


More than 350 state and federal law enforcement officials searched Thursday night by land, air and sea for Robert Card, 40, a U.S. Army reservist who officials say spent two weeks in a mental health facility this summer after exhibiting dangerous and threatening behavior.

Police were largely stationed along Meadow Road in Bowdoin Thursday night, where several of Card’s relatives live. Officers outside a home believed to belong to Card’s brother were heard shouting Card’s name and telling him that he was under arrest. But state police spokesperson Shannon Moss said that’s standard when police execute search warrants and that officers do not know whether Card is in the home.

An ATF agent and his canine walk along West Road in Bowdoin late Thursday afternoon near the residence of Robert Card. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The world’s attention turned to Maine on Thursday as onlookers tried to understand how America’s safest state had become home to so much violence. Yet many details – including the scope of the search radius, how the victim is traveling and how he slipped into the darkness after killing so many people Wednesday night – remain unknown, and police warn those updates might not come any time soon.

“We’re in the early stages of this investigation,” Maine State Police Colonel William Ross said at a news conference at Lewiston City Hall Thursday morning. “We can’t share all of our information right now, and I’m sure you understand that. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

In a statement, Coast Guard spokesperson Ryan Koroknay said a response boat crew out of Boothbay Harbor and a fixed wing plane from Cape Cod are assisting with search efforts. But he refused to answer questions about whether units are searching for a specific watercraft. According to public boat registration records, Card owns a 12-foot Sea Doo Jet Ski and previously registered a 15-foot Bayliner boat.



Auburn hairdresser Riley Dumont was eating dinner with her family. They had gathered for her 10-year-old daughter’s bowling league when the chaos erupted a few minutes before 7 p.m. She couldn’t see what was happening at first, but she heard her father, a retired police officer, telling everybody around them “to get down.” 

While some bowlers near the building’s exit, including Hopkins, managed to escape, Dumont said she and the other adults in her group tried to cover the children in a dark corner. As gunshots sounded in rapid succession, she worried the gunman might come closer. 

“We were trapped,” Dumont said. “There was no exit for us.” 

After five minutes that “felt like a lifetime,” officers arrived and began to escort everyone out, including many kids competing in the youth league. The shooter was already gone. They passed several bodies on the floor: seven dead in total, according to police, six men and one woman – Hopkins’ friend Asselin.

“The fear in all the kids’ faces is something I’ll never forget,” Dumont said.

Outside the building, Hopkins watched a white Subaru race off around the corner. But the shooter was not finished.


Four miles away, patrons at the packed Schemengees Bar & Grille on Lincoln Street were playing cornhole and pool, throwing darts and having drinks. 

“In a split second, your world gets turned upside down for no good reason,” owner Kathy Lebel posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page Thursday.

Pastor Aaron Davis of Calvary Chapel Lewiston Auburn said his stepbrother, who is deaf, was playing cornhole with some friends at Schemengees. He never heard the shots that killed two of the men at his side and put another in the hospital.

Dispatchers began receiving 911 calls warning of an active shooter at the bar at 7:08 p.m, but police again arrived too late to catch the shooter.

Officers guard the entrance to the emergency department Wednesday night at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

Eight men died at the bar, police said. Three more victims later died after being transferred to the hospital, bringing the death toll to 18. Police would not comment on the ages of the victims. Only eight bodies had been identified as of Thursday morning.

Of the 14 patients taken to Central Maine Medical Center, three remained in critical condition on Thursday night and one has been transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, said John Alexander, senior vice president and chief operating officer at CMMC. One patient was transported directly from the crime scene to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston.


Victims confirmed by the Press Herald include: Joe Walker, 57, of Auburn, the manager of Schemengees; Bob Violette, 76, of Lewiston, who was an avid bowler; Peyton Brewer-Ross, 40, of Bath, who was killed while playing in a cornhole tournament at Schemengees; and Tricia Asselin, of Auburn, who worked part-time at the bowling alley.

At 8:06 p.m., officials released a photo of the shooter to the media.

A little over an hour later, Lewiston police received a tip that the man in the photo was Card. At 9:56 p.m., Lisbon police reported a white Subaru belonging to Card had been abandoned at the Pejepscot Boat Launch in Lisbon.

Androscoggin County remained under a shelter in place order Thursday night and the streets in and around Lewiston were mostly deserted. Only police and media openly roamed the dark roads in search of Card.

A man and woman embrace at the reunification center shortly after midnight Thursday morning at Auburn Middle School in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


Card, a 2001 Mount Ararat High School graduate, has served in the Army reserves for more than 20 years and has earned several medals, including the Army Achievement Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal, according to a spokesperson for the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.


According to The Associated Press, who spoke to an anonymous U.S. official, Card was training with his unit in the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York in July, when his military commanders said they observed him acting erratically.

In an updated statement, a U.S. Army spokesperson said Card was not trained as a firearms instructor, as police had originally reported. He said Card’s unit did train at West Point this summer, but no records indicate that Card participated in that training.

Card was taken to the Keller Army Community Hospital to be evaluated, the AP said.

A police bulletin sent to law enforcement said he had been in a mental health facility for two weeks this summer and that he had reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” the military base. No information was provided about Card’s treatment or diagnosis.

An armed man whom police have identified as Robert R. Card enters Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston on Wednesday night. Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office photo, via AP

In an interview Thursday with the Daily Beast, Card’s sister-in-law, Katie Card, said he’s had acute episodes of mental health struggles over the past year. She said Card began hearing voices that weren’t there – especially the voices of people “bashing” him, including at the bowling alley and Schemengees bar, and he would get angry when he was told the voices were just in his head.



Gov. Janet Mills was the first of several state officials to speak at Thursday’s morning news conference. She said she’s received support from President Biden, several state governors and Maine’s congressional delegation and promised her administration will do everything it can to aid the many agencies searching for Card.

“This attack strikes at the very heart of who we are and the values we hold dear for this precious place we call home,” she said. “All Maine people are sharing in the sorrow of the families who lost loved ones last night. I want every person in Maine to know that we will heal together.”

She and other speakers praised law enforcement and first responders for acting “swiftly,” “selflessly,” and “with great bravery.”

But during a brief question-and-answer period, Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck refused to provide specifics about the ongoing search. He did not answer questions about the weapon police believe Card used and how he obtained it, the areas where police are searching, or Card’s mental health and possible motive.

The gun, or guns, he may have used, are already in the political spotlight. 

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, second from right, and Sen. Susan Collins, center, at Thursday evening’s press conference at Lewiston City Hall. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

At news conference Thursday night at Lewiston City Hall, Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, announced that the shooting Wednesday had convinced him to change his mind about assault weapon bans, and he will now support such a ban and has called on Congress to pass a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.


“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the U.S. Congress to ban assault rifles, like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine,” he said.

Golden has come under fire in recent years for consistently voting against firearms bills in the House, so this announcement is seen as a full reversal of his long-held position.

Biden renewed his call Thursday for a ban on assault weapons, calling on Congress to act to pass stricter gun laws in the wake of the Lewiston shootings, which he said likely “reopens deep and painful wounds,” for many who have survived gun violence in this country or have been traumatized by it.

According to a criminal history record from the State Bureau of Identification, Card’s “Federal Firearms Disqualified Status,” was listed as “unknown.” A list of Mainers who have had their weapons confiscated through the state’s “yellow flag law” does not appear to include anyone matching Card.

Police ask that anyone with information about Card’s whereabouts call 911 or one of two police tip lines: 207-213-9526 or 207-509-9002. Members of the public should not confront Card under any circumstances.

This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 to correct information about Card’s Federal Firearms Disqualified Status. His status was listed as “unknown.” 

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