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Maine State Police release timeline of manhunt for Lewiston mass shooter in response to scrutiny

Crime scene tape still surrounds Schemengees Bar & Grille, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine. The community is working to heal following mass shootings at the bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Matt Rourke
Crime scene tape still surrounds Schemengees Bar & Grille, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine. The community is working to heal following mass shootings at the bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Maine State Police released a detailed timeline of the manhunt for mass shooter Robert R. Card II on Thursday in response to questions about how the search was conducted.

The timeline shows, among other things, that state police tactical teams responded to numerous false tips – searching homes, gravel pits, farms and other potential hiding spots across the region – before Card’s body was discovered a full two days after the shooting.

The document also shows that state police tactical teams did not search the main building of the business where Card had worked for more than 14 hours after his car was found nearby in Lisbon, although local police had already searched the property. State police units returning a day later at the request of the business owner then found Card dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a trailer located on an adjacent property also owned by the business, Maine Recycling.

The release comes amid scrutiny over what happened in the months leading up to the Oct. 25 mass shooting, which left 18 dead and 13 injured, as well as over the days that immediately followed.

Card’s family and fellow Army Reserve members had raised concerns about his increasing paranoia and aggressive behavior with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. But Card was not taken into custody – despite threats to shoot up his Reserve facility in Saco – as family and Reserve leaders apparently worked to remove his access to guns and convince the 40-year-old to get mental health treatment.

Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday announced the creation of an independent commission to investigate events surrounding the worst mass shooting in Maine history. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are expected to visit Lewiston on Friday to meet with grieving family members, first responders and local officials as the region continues to mourn and funerals begin for the victims.

The five-page timeline is not comprehensive, however, because many other agencies were involved in the massive manhunt but their activities are not included in the document. As a result, there are still wide gaps in the publicly available information about the manhunt. One question that has been raised this week, for instance, is how quickly police dogs were brought in to search for Card after his car was found abandoned near a boat launch roughly a mile away from where he was ultimately discovered.

“This limited timeline and the tasks coordinated below by the Maine State Police (Incident Management Assistance Team) does not include the multiple tasks completed, interviews done and resources acquired by our many local, county state and federal partners,” state police said in a preface to the timeline. “Their contributions were unnumerable and are likely going to be revealed in the weeks to come as we receive reports from all of their assistance.”

Following are some of the key moments from the timeline:

Wednesday, Oct. 25:

  • 6:56 p.m. – First 9-1-1 reports of active shooter at Just In Time bowling alley in Lewiston. The first local officers arrive on scene minutes later but after Card has already left.
  • 7:08 p.m. – Reports of active shooter at Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston
  • 9:20 p.m. – Robert R. Card II is identified as the suspected gunman and police are provided with his vehicle information
  • 10:01 p.m. – A perimeter is established around Card’s home in Bowdoin
  • 10:08 p.m. – Card’s white Subaru is located near a boat launch in Lisbon
  • 10:23 p.m. – State police tactical teams arrive at the boat launch to find 30 to 40 police officers surrounding the car and their cruisers filling the parking lot
  • 10:37 p.m. – Tactical team confirms Card is not in the vehicle and report a rifle and magazines are observed inside
  • 10:52 p.m. – Reports received of loud noises at a local farm, later cleared after tactical response

Thursday, Oct. 26:

  • 1:10 a.m. – Tactical teams search Lisbon family also owned by Card family
  • 8:00 a.m. – Tactical teams are assigned to search the woods north of the boat landing with K9s, serve a search warrant in Bowdoin and investigate a tip at a residence in Monmouth
  • 12:30 p.m. – Tactical teams are assigned to search the main building of Maine Recycling (Card’s former place of employment) and search the trail south of the boat launch, which leads toward Maine Recycling
  • 12:30 p.m. – Teams also clear a residence in Brunswick and conduct a consent search of a Brunswick residence

Friday, Oct. 27:

  • 2:45 a.m. – Tactical teams search and clear gravel pit in Lisbon as well as an apartment in Lewiston based on tips
  • 8:00 a.m. – Teams are assigned to search woods in Bowdoin, two residences in Monmouth, a shooting range/pit is Lisbon Falls, area around Brookfield dam in Brunswick, and respond to gunshot reports in three locations in Lisbon
  • 8:00 a.m. – State police and Warden Service dive teams begin search of the Androscoggin River near the Lisbon boat launch while other search the riverbanks
  • 7:45 p.m. – Card’s body is found by tactical teams in trailer in a Maine Recycling overflow lot after the business owner asks whether police had searched the site
  • 8:10 p.m. – Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identifies Card based on a photo comparison and authorizes the public release of his death

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