Documents reveal horror of Maine’s deadliest mass shooting

 PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Thousands of pages Maine Department of Public Safety documents released Friday include detailed descriptions of the chaos and carnage surrounding the state’s deadliest mass shooting. Officers arrived at the two shooting scenes in Lewiston last October not knowing if the gunman was still there, and with living and dead victims on [[{“value”:”

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Thousands of pages Maine Department of Public Safety documents released Friday include detailed descriptions of the chaos and carnage surrounding the state’s deadliest mass shooting.

Officers arrived at the two shooting scenes in Lewiston last October not knowing if the gunman was still there, and with living and dead victims on the floors. One officer described desperate survivors screaming for help as he searched for the shooter.

“They grab at our legs and try to stop us and we can not help them,” wrote Lewiston Officer Keith Caoueutte. “We have to walk by and continue to search and hope they are alive when we come back around.”

Another police officer’s first instinct was that an act of domestic terrorism had been committed, underscored by the heavy police presence and flashing blue lights. “I truly felt like we were at war,” Auburn Lt. Steven Gosselin wrote.

Their descriptions of the scenes at a bowling alley and a bar and grill where 18 people were killed and 13 others wounded were included in more than 3,000 pages of documents released Friday by Maine Department of Public Safety in response to Freedom of Access Act requests by The Associated Press and other news organizations.

Associated Press reporters had reviewed more than a third of the pages before the website with the documents crashed late Friday afternoon. State officials said documents will be made available again on Monday.

Among the details included in the report were the words from a note left behind by the gunman, 40-year-old Army reservist Robert Card, who wrote that he just wanted to “be left the (expletive) alone,” the Portland Press Herald reported. The note also contained his phone password and passwords needed to access his various accounts.

The gunman’s family and fellow Army reservists reported that he was suffering from a mental breakdown in the months leading up to the shooting Oct. 25, 2023. In the aftermath, the legislature passed new gun laws for Maine that bolstered the state’s “yellow flag” law, criminalized the transfer of guns to prohibited people and expanded funding for mental health crisis care.

Card’s body was found two days after the shooting in the back of a tractor-trailer on his former employer’s property in nearby Lisbon. An autopsy concluded he died by suicide.

The documents that were released Friday provided officers’ firsthand accounts of what they saw along with additional details of the massive search for Card and the investigation.

At the peak, the law enforcement presence was immense with 16 SWAT team and officers from 14 different agencies, along with eight helicopters and additional airplanes, and an underwater recovery team, wrote State Police Lt. Tyler Stevenson.

“I have experienced several large-scale manhunts in my career, but this was, by far, the largest manhunt I have been a part of,” he wrote.

Officers used lasers to map the shooting scenes, searched Tracfone purchases at a Walmart in the event Card had a “burner” cellphone and even retrieved data from the infotainment system of Card’s Subaru.

Police recovered hundreds of items of potential evidence from a number of locations, including bullet cartridges and fragments, phones, hair, fibers, swabs of a gas pedal, a handwritten letter, tomahawk knife, arrows, a hearing aid, broken eyeglasses, a blue sneaker, a black chain necklace, bean bags, miscellaneous military records, $255 in cash, and a night vision monocle.

The documents underscored the chaos as police officers poured into the region. In addition to the two crime scenes, police responded to unfounded reports of a gunman in a field near the shooting scene, at another restaurant and at a massive Walmart distribution center.

“I asked who was in charge and got no answer,” wrote Androscoggin County Deputy Jason Chaloux, describing the scene outside the bar.

Others described the horrific scenes inside. Cell phones ringing on bloodied tabletops, tablecloths and a pool table cover turned into makeshift stretchers.

“A quick scan of the building revealed blood and flesh scattered throughout the business,” Lewiston Detective Zachary Provost wrote of the bowling alley. “I also could smell the heavy odor of gunpowder mixed with burning flesh.”

Caoeutte, the Lewiston officer who responded to the bar and grill, said some witnesses yelled that the gunman was still in the building when he arrived while others said he already left. He told one man lying on the floor to “hang in there,” but by the time he returned to him, the man had died.

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Ramer reported from Concord, New Hampshire. Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc contributed from Boston.

David Sharp And Holly Ramer, The Associated Press








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