Maine gunman Robert Card targeted several deaf friends at a cornhole club for the hard of hearing in a possible revenge attack, it has emerged today.
The previously sectioned Army reserve firearms instructor is still at large after bursting into a bowling alley and nearby bar in Lewiston with an AR-15-style rifle on Wednesday night, killing at least 18 people and injuring 13 more.
In the months before the shooting, Card had been prescribed a hearing aid, which he claimed allowed him to hear people criticizing him at Schemengee’s Bar where he carried out his second shooting.
The 40-year-old, from Bowdon, Maine, first opened fire at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley just before 7pm, killing seven. The gunman then entered Schemengees Bar & Grille, where he killed eight more. Three others died in hospital.
At the time of the horrific attack, the bar was hosting a cornhole tournament for the ‘tight-knit’ deaf community, which Card actively competed in. The group were playing as they usually do every Wednesday night.
The local community is reeling after it was confirmed that Bryan MacFarlane, Steve Vozzella, Bill Brackett and Joshua Seal were among the deaf people killed at Schemengees.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Card’s sister-in-law said that the suspect had been claiming that through the hearing aids he could hear people ‘bashing’ him. She added that Card had been struggling with his mental health throughout the past year.
Card, a US Army reserve soldier, launched the initial attack at a bowling alley (pictured) at around 6.56pm then struck again at bar and restaurant four miles away just 12 minutes later
Deaf community member Bryan MacFarlane, 40, was shot dead by Card in Schemengees
Deaf community activist Joshua Seal, pictured alongside his wife Elisabeth, was also killed
Deaf Steve Vozzella, who was killed in the massacre, is pictured last June playing in cornhole tournament in Maine
Bill Bracket was confirmed dead by his father, William, who said he was at a deaf cornhole game
‘He truly believed he was hearing people say things. This all just happened within the last few months,’ Katie Card said Thursday. She also said that Card would ‘get mad’ when people tried to convince him that nobody was talking about him.
‘I have known Rob my whole life. He is quiet but the most loving, hardworking, and kind person that I know. But in the past year, he had an acute episode of mental health, and it’s been a struggle,’ she added.
Katie Card said that when she first heard about the shooting, she hoped that her brother-in-law had nothing to do with it.
‘We know he is out there and he is a good person in his heart. After all of this, when he has time to reflect, he will be disgusted. We all want him to know that we love him and that we can handle things as a family. He just has to reach out and do the right thing,’ she continued.
Among those killed was well-known American Sign Language interpreter Joshua Seal, 40.
‘He was also a wonderful boss, an incredible interpreter, a great friend, a loving son, brother, uncle, and grandson,’ Seal’s wife, Elizabeth, wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
‘He loved his family and always put them first. That is what he will always be remembered for.’
Robert Card, 40, had recently been prescribed two hearing aids that his sister-in-law says led him to believe others were ‘bashing him’
Ron Morin (pictured left) and Arthur Strout, right, were gunned down by Card at the bar too
Law enforcement officers, right, stand near armored and tactical vehicles, center, near a property on Meadow Road, in Bowdoin, Maine, on Thursday night
Seal, who was deaf himself, was the program director of the Pine Tree Society, an interpreting service. His social media was filled with calls for interpreters and he often spread awareness about the importance of sign language.
He was also a father-of-four who ‘always loved spending time with them, traveling, going for a day trip to the beach, or going camping for the weekend,’ his wife said.
‘My heart is shattered into a million pieces for our Deaf community,’ wrote Krissey Taplin Richardson in a tribute.
Family members of Bill Brackett and Steven Vozzella confirmed to ABC News that they were part of a gathering of deaf people playing cornhole when they were killed.
Steven’s wife Megan told USA Today that the cornhole tournament had 10 players, which means almost half the men attending were gunned down.
Also confirmed to have died at Schemengees were bar manager Joseph Walker and Peyton Brewer-Ross who were due to play in a cornhole league on Thursday with Ron Morin and another friend.
FBI agents staged a dramatic raid on a family property on Thursday night but Card, 40, remains on the run – as experts warned that the 40-year-old deer hunter and Army reservist was well equipped to survive in the wild, and could even be planning a new attack.
It now emerges he left behind his cell phone, to avoid detection, ABC News reported.
And his online search history contained conspiracy theories, plus showed fears about a financial crisis and plunge in the stock market; LGBTQ+ issues; gun rights and commentary about Democratic public officials, including President Joe Biden, ABC News said.
Card was last seen on Wednesday night fleeing the second of two locations in Lewiston where he staged attacks at a bowling alley and then a bar, shooting dead 18 people.
His abandoned car was found just before 10pm in the town of Lisbon, seven miles from Lewiston.
Since then over 350 state and federal law enforcement officials have been scouring the area for Card, backed by helicopters, drones, and dogs.
The 40-year-old is an Army Reservist stationed out of the city of Saco
The Card family home in Bowdoin is pictured above. It is the suspect’s last known address
Card lived in the small town of Bowdoin, close to homes owned by his parents and his brother and sister-in-law.
One neighbor told The Messenger that the Card family’s arrangement was ‘basically a compound’, and he and his relatives were all ‘gun-toting enthusiasts’.
‘They would shoot guns all the time, you could hear them every day after school. It was like clockwork,’ said Liam Kent.
He said he once saw Card ‘covered in blood with a gun on his back, a giant grin on his face’ after going deer hunting.
Marko Galbreath, a former Florida police sergeant and SWAT team member, told DailyMail.com that Card could have traveled anywhere – and the whole country must be vigilant.
‘He could still be in that area, planning to have a shootout with police, planning to commit suicide, planning to commit another attack. Or, you know what, he could be in Texas right now. We have no idea.
‘If he planned it out well enough, he could very well be far from that area right now,’ said Galbreath, who provides active shooter response training through his company T4Tactics.
‘We need to tell the entire country that until this guy is captured, we need to use due diligence.’
He added: ‘He could have shaved, he could have put on a wig, he may change his appearance. He he may not look like what people think he looks like, so we need to really watch.’
Galbreath added that Card’s military training would have also provided a survival ‘skillset and mindset’ which would have taught how to ‘live in an environment that’s not comfortable’.
Card is believed to have joined the military reserve in 2002.
A bulletin sent to police across the country after the attack said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this past summer after ‘hearing voices and threats to shoot up’ a military base.
A US official said Card was training with the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment in West Point, New York, when commanders became concerned about him.
Galbreath said Card’s history of mental illness meant he could have taken his own life somewhere secluded to ‘keep the fear going’ among the public.
Robert Carlson, a law enforcement officer and firearms instructor who founded the Brave Defender Training Group in Memphis, told DailyMail.com that Card’s military history means he has ‘the same, if not even a possibly higher level of, training and experience as the responding officers’.
‘It does most significantly add an increased level of danger when you have somebody that has some sort of level of training or familiarity with tactics and weapons,’ he said.
Carlson said it is important law enforcement provide information so that ‘that the public is aware of not only their risk, but also so that they can aid law enforcement in attempting to identify or spot that individual’.
The search has included forests, waterways and small towns around the rural areas in Maine where the shootings took place.
Schools, doctor’s offices and grocery stores closed and people stayed behind locked doors in cities as far away as 50 miles from the scenes of the shootings.
On Thursday evening at 7:20pm, FBI agents were heard using a bullhorn outside a house and saying: ‘Come out with your hands up.’
It was unclear who they were talking to, if anyone.
The FBI agents, using a bull horn, yelled at whoever was in the house: ‘Come out with your hands up’
The FBI on Thursday night were shining a light on this window, on the upper floor of a home believed to belong to either Card’s parents or brother and sister-in-law
A series of four loud bangs were heard on Thursday evening near this Bowdoin, Maine home connected to Robert Card
The agents, using a bullhorn, had told a person to come towards them, and asked if anyone else was inside. Helicopters were overhead, and drones.
It was unclear if anyone was inside the house.
Connor Clemente, a reporter with local news channel WMTWTV, said he heard the FBI ordering Card himself to come out of the house.
He tweeted that he heard: ‘Robert Card, you’re under arrest. We know you’re inside, come out with your hands up, we don’t want anyone to get hurt.’
Maine state police said that the orders to ‘come out with your hands up’ were ‘standard’, and refused to comment on who was inside.
‘The announcements that are being heard over a loud speaker are standard search warrant announcements when executing a warrant to ensure the safety of all involved,’ said Shannon Moss, a spokesman for Maine state police.
‘It is unknown whether Robert Card is in any of the homes law enforcement will search.
‘Law enforcement officials are simply doing their due diligence by tracking down every lead in an effort to locate and apprehend Card.’
Card, 40, has been on the run since murdering 18 people on Wednesday night in Lewiston, 15 miles from his Bowdoin home.
His abandoned car was found on Wednesday night seven miles from Lewiston, near the town of Lisbon, with a gun inside, NBC News reported.
It emerged on Thursday he may have been searching for his ex at the bowling alley and bar where he opened fire.
And police sources told ABC News that he left a suicide note addressed to his son.
The note did not give a motive for the mass shooting, the sources said.
There was significant police activity at the Bowdoin home earlier, with a large presence spotted at 5pm.
A little over an hour later, at 6.18pm, a convoy of eight Maine state police and FBI vehicles moved swiftly along the narrow road by the property in the dark, and left the area.
These included a SWAT team armored vehicle and several black Chevrolet Suburban SUVs.
Shannon Moss, a spokesman for Maine state police, said that the activity at the Bowdoin property was ‘part of the investigation’, and said no gunshots were fired.
‘Law enforcement is at a home in Bowdoin as part of the investigation into the Lewiston shootings and the search for Robert Card,’ she said.
‘When it’s appropriate to do so additional information will be released.’
She added: ‘It’s a tactical operation.’
But the FBI then returned to the property around 7:15pm.
A Maryland TAC team walk out out of a field after law enforcement surrounded a property in Bowdoin, Maine, believed to be connected to Lewiston shooting suspect Robert Card
Law enforcement vehicles leave the area near a home connected to mass-shooting suspect Robert Card in Bowdoin, Maine on Thursday at 6:20pm. They were back around an hour later
An armored vehicle is seen leaving the property connected to the Card family on Thursday night
His sister told law enforcement officials the 40-year-old Army reserve firearms instructor could have targeted Schemengees Bar and Grille and Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley in Lewiston in the hope of finding his ex, ABC reported.
Court documents show his ex-wife filed for divorce in 2007 and they were granted joint custody of their child – though it’s unclear whether she is his most recent ex.
Card is still on the run and considered armed and dangerous after he carried out the year’s deadliest shooting at around 7pm on Wednesday. It’s feared he may have fled on a boat he owns.
Ryan Koroknay, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said a response boat crew has been dispatched from Boothbay Harbor, and a fixed wing plane from Cape Cod is also assisting with search efforts.
Card owns a 12-foot Sea Doo Jet Ski and previously registered a 15-foot Bayliner boat, The Sun Journal reported.
Koroknay would not say whether the Coast Guard was looking for any particular vessel.
Opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, the gunman killed at least 18 people while injuring 13 more before fleeing.
As the multi-agency search for the armed fugitive enters its 22nd hour, cops have also uncovered a cryptic note at his Bowdoin home.
An aerial view of law enforcement personnel at the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant after deadly mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine
Four law enforcement sources told NBC New York that police are poring over the meaning of the letter.
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, according to the AP report.
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.