At 3 Cousins Firearms in Lewiston, less than a mile and a half from Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant, where one of the two mass shootings took place, customers were shopping for guns and ammunition on Friday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Nearly 48 hours after 18 people were shot and killed at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, few details are known about the firearm used, the bullets it fired and how suspect Robert Card might have gotten his hands on the weapon.

Authorities confirmed Friday night that Card had been found dead in Lisbon after a two-day manhunt.

The Maine Department of Public Safety declined to answer questions Friday about the gun used in the fatal attack, including whether authorities had recovered any firearms.

“We wouldn’t discuss (those questions) at this time in an active investigation,” spokesperson Shannon Moss said.

But officials did find a gun in the white Subaru that Card abandoned near the Androscoggin River in Lisbon, and were testing it to see if it was used in the shooting, officials close to the matter told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. Authorities were also conducting a trace to try to determine when and where that gun was obtained, the officials said.

Michael Sauschuck, Maine’s commissioner of public safety, only publicly stated that police found evidence, but not what kind.


In surveillance photos police released from the bowling alley, the shooter could be seen carrying an AR-style rifle, of which there are several types. Some can fire larger-caliber and more destructive bullets than others, local gun shop owners said.

Maine Shooting

An armed man whom police later identified as Robert Card points a gun Wednesday night while entering Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston. Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office

Army officials have affirmed that the weapons Card, a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army Reserves, allegedly used in the shooting were not Army-issued.

The reserve unit Card serves in recently did an inventory of its arms room, where its service weapons are kept, and found that 100% of the weapons were there and accounted for, an Army spokesperson said.

“The Army can confirm that he did not have an Army-issued weapon,” spokesperson Bryce Dubee said Friday. “His assigned unit conducted a complete weapons inventory and reported 100% accountability.”

Card did not have access to unit weapons or the unit’s arms room. Army reserve soldiers are not authorized to access military weapons if they are not conducting unit-level mandatory weapons training or authorized duty, according to Addie Leonhardt, an Army Reserve spokesperson.



Having looked at surveillance photos of the shooter, he appears to be carrying either an AR-15 or AR-10 rifle, said Trevor Brooks, who works at a Lewiston gun shop called 3 Cousins Firearms.

The semi-automatic rifles, often called military-style or assault weapons,  are a nationwide favorite when it comes to buying guns, Brooks said.

They can look similar in appearance to M4s, a fully automatic firearm — illegal for civilians to own — used by the military.

“An M4 is a smaller version of an AR, shoots the same bullets but it’s automatic,” Brooks said. “But that’s not what he had — his was a full-size carbine rifle with a longer barrel, a basic magazine and a standard stock.”

To be exempted from the ban on owning automatic guns, a civilian would have to apply for a special tax stamp that costs about $200 to apply for and takes almost a year to receive through a process that requires an interview and background check. Purchased automatic weapons are never new, Brooks added. The ones that are found are old, used and would cost $20,000 to $30,000.

“From the amount of shooting he has done, I think he was using smaller-caliber bullets, probably 5.56 mm or .223-caliber ammunition,” Brooks said. “I doubt he would have been able to shoot that fast with larger caliber bullets.”


Larger caliber bullets have a larger projectile, more energy and make bigger holes. Smaller caliber bullets move faster but inflict less damage.

Investigators reportedly suspect Card used a rifle that fires a .308-caliber bullet, two people familiar with the case told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. Those kinds of bullets are large, powerful and usually used for hunting. Most AR-15 rifles fire .223-caliber bullets.

Tony Lewis, of T and K Tactical, a gun shop on Western Avenue in Augusta, said it’s hard to tell whether the gun shown in the surveillance photo had any modifications, or accessories, added to it.

“It looks like an AR-15,” Lewis said. “I have no idea, from looking at that photograph, which is too fuzzy,” what, if any, modifications it had undergone.


It can take investigators time to test firearms and determine any ties to a crime scene, forensic experts said, depending on a number of things: the lab setting, the state and whether there is a backlog of tests pending, said Bill Demuth, former president of the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners.


Typically, the testing process involves firing a few rounds from the gun in a crime lab.

“It’s test-fired and the test-fired cartridges and bullets are compared microscopically with the bullets obtained from the crime scene,” Demuth said. “That is the potential link between the firearm and the crime scene. Then the investigator tries to establish a link between the firearm and the suspect.”

A serial number unique to each gun can also be used to track the manufacturer, distributor, and dealer of the firearm, he said.

“The serial number can tell you how the firearm was procured,” said Demuth. “When firearms are transferred, like when a manufacturer sends it to a distributor, there is a record of that transfer. Then when a distributor sends it to a dealer, there is a record of that transaction. And the same goes for when someone buys it from a dealer.”

Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to track the serial number if the firearm was procured in a private-party transfer. Some states, like Illinois, as Demuth pointed out, require private-party transfers to be reported, too.

The reality is different in Maine, where a proposal to require background checks for private gun sales and to create a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases failed to pass earlier this year.



It does not appear that Card was banned from possessing a gun, either because of his criminal history — which, prior to this week, was limited to one operating under the influence charge — or because of concerns about his mental health.

Officials have not said whether they suspect he obtained the gun used in the killings legally or not.

Maine’s “yellow flag law” allows police officers to seize weapons from people who are a risk to themselves or others. But it was not invoked against Card.

Since 2020, Maine’s yellow flag law has been used 81 times to prohibit people who are considered to be a risk to themselves or others from accessing firearms.

Officials said they could not discuss whether the law was ever applied to Card, citing a lack of information and confidentiality rules. But state records indicate it was not.


A bulletin issued by the Maine Information Analysis Center said local law enforcement had reported that Card had mental health problems, including hearing voices, and threatened to “shoot up” a National Guard base in Saco.

He reportedly spent a few weeks at a mental health facility this summer.

A list provided by the state of weapon restrictions issued under the yellow flag law does not contain names, but it does include dates, locations, ages and situations for each individual. None of those match up with Card. That is likely because Card was reportedly in New York when he made the statements.

To have obtained a semi-automatic rifle legally from a gun store, Card would have had to fill out certain forms detailing his name, date of birth, gender, and address, Brooks, the Lewiston gun shop worker said. The store then notifies the FBI about the request. The FBI proceeds with a background check, and, based on the kind of gun someone is trying to buy, decides if the sale is approved, denied or must be delayed.

Since 1998, when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, went online, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has processed more than 320 million of them.

If a person tries to buy more than a single handgun, the store is obligated to report it to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials from the federal agency could not be reached for comment Friday on whether Card had purchased multiple weapons in the past.

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