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How it happened and why it may have been preventable
awmcphee, Wikimedia Commons
A rough location of where the shootings that killed 18 occurred

Overview of events:

On October 25th, 2023, Maine suffered the deadliest shooting of its history in its second most populous town, Lewiston. The shooter’s name was Robert Card. A total of 18 people were killed by Card at two different locations: Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar and Grill. 

Card originally targeted the bowling alley where he killed 10 people, and then moved on to the bar and grill where he killed another 8 only about 10 minutes later. 13 more were injured.

After Card had finished shooting, he drove his car down to Lisbon, a town only 8 miles away. He exited the car and left it in a parking lot, and then ran off to an unknown location within the same town. Card was discovered two days later, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a trailer.

Effect on the community:

The terrorizing calamity set the nation on edge; especially those in the surrounding area of the attacks. The people of Maine aren’t familiar with mass shootings on this scale as some other parts of the country are. A study conducted by the FBI states that Maine has the lowest amount of violent crime in the whole U.S. 

As imagined, the shooting was riveting news to the unexpecting public when it was first heard.

After the shooting, a manhunt was conducted, and it was at this time that the people of Maine were most afraid. Citizens did not like the thought of a mass shooter running loose with unknown whereabouts. Many businesses and schools decided to close because of the danger posed.

After the killer was found, the community was relieved. Although the shooting was a crushing blow to the community’s well being, hope was not completely lost. Lea Boisvert,  a family member of one of the victims stated, “For those 48 hours, we were all so scared, so to be able to start to rebuild, that is a powerful gift that we’ve been given.”

The Maine community is hopeful for the future, partially thanks to its tightly knit community. Boisvert said regarding this, “Lewiston is the smallest big town you’re going to find, but Lisbon’s even smaller, and just having everybody come out to show their support, it’s about community.”

Symptoms of a shooter:

Large-scale shootings like this one can’t help but raise questions. Could anyone have seen this coming? Was there any way to know that Robert Card was going to do what he did?

In this particular case, the answer is a definite yes.

For the people who knew Robert Card, the news about the shooting did not come as a complete surprise. Many family members already saw him as mentally unstable before anything major happened.

Card served in the military for roughly 20 years and was actively part of the Army reserve in Saco, Maine. He suffered from mental health problems that mostly began during his time in the reserve. The problems that may have contributed as incentive for his crime are suspected to have begun in January.

Maine police interviewed a subject who knew Card during the time and they revealed that he had undergone a break up and also acquired hearing aids. The subject noted that this was when Card had started to act ‘delusional’.

Many other red flags were picked up on, including two separate warnings reported to the police by Card’s family members. They were concerned about Card and feared what he might do given his deteriorating mental health and access to guns. Times were recalled by the family when Card would tell them that people walking around in public areas were talking about him. No one had ever paid him any attention.

Other times, Card would accuse people of calling him names, specifically having to do with sexual topics. He believed that he was called a pedophile by soldiers at an Army reserve detail, and on a different occasion, a sex offender. 

Joseph Walker, the manager at Schemengees Bar and Grill, was accused of calling Card gay. Walker was one of those to be murdered on the night of the shooting at the bar and grill.

Multiple news sources have been unable to confirm if these accusations are true.

Another concerning fact is how readily available firearms were to such a mentally unstable person. At the Army reserve, Card was prohibited from using firearms on duty, a decision made by the reserve itself. However, Card still had access to guns outside of the reserve, owning about 10-15 of them. 

Attempts were made by Card’s brother to rid Card of his weapons. The brother succeeded in locking his guns away in a safe, away from Card. This had little effect on Card, unfortunately, and he got the guns out of the safe.

As Card’s mental health grew worse and worse, a fellow soldier at the reserve wrote that he thought Card would eventually ”snap and do a mass shooting.” 


Looking back, it seems almost obvious that Card was going to do what he did. All of the needed indicators were present, and yet, nobody took them seriously enough to do something in prevention of it. 

What can be done for the future?

There are two main possible solutions for preventing mass shootings: stopping the sale of semi-automatic rifles on a national level or having stricter rules on gun ownership, as in who gets to own them and how long that person gets to keep them.


States generally agree, according to their own laws, that no mentally ill person should own a gun. Some of these states have more specific laws. These states include Florida, which says that no person who has been adjudicated to be mentally defective can purchase a firearm, and Alabama, which says that no person of an unsound mind may own a firearm. 

However, Maines law regarding this subject is a little less specific. It reads,

A person may not own, possess, or have under that person’s control a firearm, unless that person has obtained a permit under this section, if that person:

Has been found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing certain enumerated crimes.

This means that a person who is mentally ill must actually be deemed to be so or commit a crime. This is not the most effective system compared to states like Alabama.

Limiting what guns people can buy is the idea that some Americans would like to see put into action. The guns used in the Maine shootings were assault rifles; notorious for being opposed by anti-gun activists. Some people believe that if these kinds of guns are taken away from U.S. citizens, then there will be less gun-related crime.

Whatever the solution may be for the issue of mass shooters, it isn’t likely that it will be reached soon. The topic of gun banning is hotly debated among Americans. While these debates rage on, mass shootings happen nearly every day, the worst of 2023 being that which happened in Maine.

About the Contributor
Asher Maney, Reporter