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Unraveling Tragedy: Grieving Maine Families Seek Answers as Alleged Killer of 18 People Found Dead - "Why Did You Do This?"


In the somber aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States this year, Maine families are navigating a complex emotional terrain marked by grief and profound bewilderment. The alleged perpetrator, Robert Card, a 40-year-old US Army reservist, was found lifeless with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a recycling facility box trailer, bringing an end to a harrowing 48-hour manhunt. The devastating rampage unfolded in Lewiston, where 18 lives were tragically cut short, and 13 others left wounded in shootings at a bowling alley and a restaurant.

For the tight-knit community of Lewiston, the manhunt injected a pervasive fear that permeated the city and its surrounding areas, prompting the closure of schools and confining residents behind locked doors. The grieving process, delayed by the urgent pursuit of justice, can now commence. However, with the alleged shooter's demise, a plethora of unanswered questions hangs heavily over the affected families.

Elizabeth Seal, widow of Joshua Seal, one of the victims, is grappling with conflicting emotions. While relieved that the perpetrator has been located and is no longer a threat, she mourns the absence of closure that accompanies the death of the accused. Through an American Sign Language interpreter, she voices the collective plea of the grieving families: "Why did you do this? What was the motive? Why would you hurt so many families?"

As authorities work diligently to unravel the motives behind the heinous attack, a note discovered by the police from Card to his family adds another layer of mystery. Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck revealed in a news conference that the note conveyed Card's awareness of his impending demise, accompanied by a desire to ensure his family had access to his phone. The elusive motive and the timeline of Card's demise remain elusive.

Despite the uncertainty, some family members find solace in the closure brought about by Card's death. Rob Young, who lost his brother Bill Young and 14-year-old nephew Aaron in the shooting, expresses relief at avoiding the anguish of a trial and the graphic details it would entail. Survivor Tammy Asselin, whose cousin Tricia Asselin perished in the tragedy, is left grappling with the haunting "why" questions, particularly concerning the shooter's choice of locations and the presence of children during the attack. These questions, she acknowledges, may forever remain unanswered.

As federal and local investigators diligently piece together the events leading up to the violence, the grieving community is left to navigate a landscape marked by sorrow, resilience, and an enduring quest for elusive answers.

The investigative focus intensifies as an FBI Social Media Exploitation Team delves into Robert Card's digital footprint, aiming to uncover crucial insights into the motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in Maine. Assigned to the case, this specialized team is meticulously scouring Card's social media presence to decipher potential motivations, unearth any additional attack plans, and identify associates who may serve as witnesses in the ongoing investigation, according to a federal law enforcement source disclosed to CNN on Friday.

Simultaneously, authorities are diligently working to construct a timeline that spans the critical period between the second attack and the discovery of Card's lifeless body. A senior source deeply involved in the investigation emphasizes the importance of establishing a comprehensive chronology to gain clarity on the events leading up to the gunman's demise.

The manhunt for Card unfolded on Wednesday night, shattering the peace at Just-in-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston. The victims, spanning ages 14 to 76, encompassed a heartbreaking array of lives cut short—a boy bowling with his father, participants in a deaf cornhole tournament, and fathers leaving behind young children. As the community grapples with the aftermath, five of the injured victims remain hospitalized, three in critical condition, underscoring the enduring impact of the senseless violence.

In a show of resilience, the community gathered for a poignant candlelight vigil on Saturday, honoring those lost in the shootings. Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, reflecting the city's strength, asserted, "The violence that happened this past Wednesday was senseless and tragic, but we will be OK. Lewiston is a strong city full of resilient people. And I have no doubt that we'll be OK." He remains unwaveringly focused on healing the city and restoring normalcy.

Detailing the sequence of events on Wednesday, the gunman initiated the attacks at Just-In-Time Recreation shortly before 7 p.m. Subsequent to the initial barrage, approximately 12 minutes later, multiple 911 calls reported a shooter at Schemengees Bar and Grille Restaurant, located about 4 miles from the bowling alley. The ensuing manhunt prompted shelter-in-place orders for Androscoggin and northern Sagadahoc counties, encompassing Lewiston, Auburn, and Lisbon.

Law enforcement underscores Card's formidable background as a US Army reservist and certified firearms instructor with extensive training, including land navigation and firearms expertise. Described as a skilled marksman, he earned recognition as one of the best shooters in his unit from a comrade who served alongside him. As the intricate web of motives and circumstances continues to unravel, the community grapples with the repercussions of a tragedy that has left indelible scars on the fabric of their city.

For a harrowing two days, the tranquility of the typically serene community was shattered as law enforcement officers, armed with long guns, meticulously combed through various locations in the relentless pursuit of answers. The culmination of this exhaustive search came on Friday with the discovery of Robert Card's lifeless body, a conclusion reached through an extensive operation involving divers, underwater vessels, and aircraft.

Card's final resting place was inside a box trailer situated in an overflow parking lot at the Maine Recycling Corporation in Lisbon, as revealed by Michael Sauschuck during Saturday's news conference. Adding a layer of complexity to the investigation, it was disclosed that Card had recently been terminated from his employment at the recycling center, a detail disclosed by a law enforcement source to CNN. Despite an initial search deeming the facility clear, the owner of Maine Recycling directed authorities to additional trailers that had been overlooked initially.

The circumstances surrounding Card's demise remain shrouded in uncertainty. Sauschuck mentioned that the shooter was attired in the same sweatshirt observed in the surveillance footage from the Wednesday night shooting, indicating a possible continuity in his attire. Alongside Card's lifeless form, law enforcement discovered two firearms and a note addressed to his family. Described as not explicitly a suicide note, the message conveyed a somber tone, expressing Card's awareness of his impending absence and the desire to ensure his loved ones had access to his phone and its contents.

While the investigation continues to grapple with the elusive motive behind the tragic events, a key theory has emerged, suggesting a link to Card's recent breakup with a longtime girlfriend. Law enforcement sources disclosed to CNN that investigators are exploring the possibility that the bowling alley and the bar were targeted because they held sentimental value as places the couple used to frequent.

A pivotal step in the investigation involved the execution of a search warrant at Card's residence on Thursday, where investigators sought computers, notes, weapons, and any evidence that could shed light on a potential plan for the shootings. Card's family, cooperative throughout the process, played a crucial role in identifying the shooter. However, Sauschuck noted that the family has faced unwarranted threats in the wake of Card's actions, underscoring the ripple effects of a tragedy that has left a community grappling with grief and seeking elusive answers.

Michael Sauschuck, providing a poignant insight into the heart-wrenching aftermath of the tragedy, revealed that the first three individuals to positively identify the shooter were family members. In the wake of Friday's heart-wrenching revelation, the 18 victims from the shooting rampage were officially identified, painting a devastating portrait of lives lost, spanning ages 14 to 76.

Among the deeply mourned is Aaron Young, an honor student whose life was tragically cut short while bowling with his father. Aaron's sister, Kayla Putnam, shared with CNN affiliate WCVB the profound impact of the loss, describing their father, Bill, as the family's rock—an auto mechanic who held the family together. Bill's brother, Rob Young, encapsulated the unfathomable grief, emphasizing the profound void left behind. "Her son was her entire world, and my brother was her best friend and soul mate, and they were both taken away," he lamented.

Another cherished life extinguished in the senseless violence was that of American Sign Language interpreter Joshua Seal. Participating in a cornhole tournament for deaf athletes at Schemengees, Joshua lost his life on Wednesday. In a heartfelt Facebook tribute, his wife, Elizabeth Seal, painted a vivid picture of a devoted father who cherished moments with his children. "Not only was he an amazing father, he was a wonderful husband, my best friend, and my soulmate," she expressed. Joshua's multifaceted role as a boss, interpreter, friend, son, brother, uncle, and grandson highlighted his commitment to family. "He loved his family and always put them first. That is what he will always be remembered for," Elizabeth Seal conveyed.

The somber reality of Wednesday's rampage reverberates across the nation, marking it as the deadliest mass shooting in the United States this year. Against a backdrop of escalating gun violence, with at least 572 mass shootings reported this year alone, the community grapples with an indescribable loss. As the nation mourns and grapples with the pervasive issue of gun violence, the stories of those lost in this tragedy serve as a stark reminder of the human cost and the urgent need for collective action.

In the wake of the devastating mass shooting that unfolded in Maine, the community is left grappling with an unfathomable loss that transcends ages and stories. As family members stepped forward to identify the alleged shooter, the poignant narratives of the victims emerged, each a cherished life extinguished by senseless violence.

Among those lost, the poignant story of Aaron Young, an honor student with a promising future, resonates deeply. His father, Bill, described as the family's anchor, leaves behind a void that words cannot capture. The profound impact is echoed in the sentiments of Bill's brother, Rob Young, who emphasizes the irreplaceable loss suffered by Aaron's mother.

The tragedy extends to the heart of the community's resilience, as exemplified by American Sign Language interpreter Joshua Seal. His vibrant life, cut short during a cornhole tournament for deaf athletes, leaves a void in the lives of those who knew him. Elizabeth Seal's heartfelt tribute paints a picture of a devoted father, husband, and friend, underscoring the multifaceted role Joshua played in the lives of his loved ones.

As the nation grapples with the grim reality of this year's deadliest mass shooting, the overarching concern of gun violence echoes louder than ever. The stories of those lost in this tragedy serve as a stark reminder of the human toll and the urgent need for collective action. In the face of over 572 mass shootings reported this year, excluding the shooter, the nation is compelled to confront the pervasive issue of gun violence, seeking solutions to prevent further heartbreak and preserve the sanctity of every life lost.