Police reports indicated that the body of the gunman, identified as Robert Card, had been found near the Lisbon, Maine, woods in an area near a recycling center that the suspect had recently been fired from.
(UPDATE: Police have now said that the body of the suspect was found in a trailer in a parking lot close to a recycling center from which Card had recently been fired.)
The Maine mass shooting suspect was found dead following a two-day manhunt, state officials confirmed late Friday.
Maine Governor Janet Mills detailed during a Friday news conference that the suspected shooter is “no longer a threat,” adding that she informed US President Joe Biden and the state’s congressional delegation of the development.
“Now is the time to heal,” Mills said. “With this search concluded, I know that law enforcement continues to fully investigate all the facts so we can bring what closure we can to the victims and their families.”
Robert Card, 40, was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, Maine Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Sauschuck said.
Details are lacking, such as how long the supect had been dead, or whether he shot himself as arrest was imminent, or what weapon he used to shoot himself.
Sauschuck said a paper note was found that was “not explicitly a suicide note” but one which had the “tone of an individual who was not going to be around”.
Card’s vehicle, a white Subaru Outback, was first found abandoned near a boat launch along the Androscoggin river, in Lisbon. A gun had also been found in the abandoned vehicle. Authorities had carried out a search for evidence of Card, as well as a potential body along the river.
The sources say the weapon found inside Card’s 2013 white Subaru Outback appears to be the same one fired by the gunman at the bowling alley and a local bar, though a ballistics match has not been confirmed.
The weapon will be processed by the FBI and ATF for fingerprints and DNA, and then run through laboratory testing to determine if the bullets and shell casings found at the scene match.
Sources told CNN Card also bought a Beretta 92-F 9mm semi-automatic pistol, along with the rifle, in the same July purchase.
The Maine State Police earlier employed a dive team, as well as sonar technology, to search the body of water, as Card was known to have owned more than one boat or vessel.
It is believed that the body was found relatively close to where the car was abandoned.
The news comes hours after police lifted a stay-at-home order for the normally quiet community.
Among the dead are a grandfather, a talented young bowler, and four deaf locals, ranging in age from 14 to 76.
At a news conference at Lewiston City Hall, Maine Governor Janet Mills said the body was found in Lisbon, near where the shooting occurred.
“I’m breathing a sigh of relief tonight knowing that Robert Card will not be a threat to anyone,” she said.
Gov Mills said the discovery of the suspect’s body would set the community on “the long and difficult road to healing”.
Lewiston Police Chief David St Pierre added that he was “elated” by the news, but “our work is not done here”.
“We’re gonna grieve for the families that lost loved ones, were gonna continue to work, we’re gonna persevere and we’re gonna become better people for it,” he continued.
Commissioner Sauschuck said the body was found at 19:45 local time (23:45 GMT) on Friday near a river in Lisbon Falls.
He said many of the details were being withheld because authorities wanted to speak to the victims’ families first.
Earlier on Friday, police released the names of all the 18 victims.
Maine Senator Susan Collins said the state now “can breathe a collective sigh of relief thanks to the brave first responders who worked night and day to find this killer”.
She added that President Joe Biden had called her earlier on Friday to tell her that the suspect had died.
In a statement, Mr Biden said it had been “a tragic two days – not just for Lewiston, Maine, but for our entire country”.
“Once again, an American community and American families have been devastated by gun violence,” he said.
“Until that day comes, I will continue to do everything in my power to end this gun violence epidemic,” he added.
The suspect’s sister-in-law had told NBC that the family was “doing everything we can to help law enforcement”.
“Our hearts are broken,” said Katie Card, who is married to the gunman’s brother.
The attack happened on Wednesday night at a local bar and a bowling alley in the small town of Lewiston.
Police responded to reports of shooting at two locations, a restaurant called Schemengees, and Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley, which are about four miles (6.5km) apart.
Seven people were killed at the bowling alley, eight at Schemengees Bar and Grille, and three were pronounced dead at local hospitals.
On Friday night, before the news that Card had been found, members of the local deaf community, who were deeply affected by the tragedy, gathered over Zoom for a virtual vigil.
Nearly 100 deaf and hard of hearing people from across the country joined.
“There are no words or signs to express what we are all experiencing,” said moderator Terry Morrell, opening the event.
“We lost four beloved deaf people”, he said, with two other deaf people injured.
“We are all grieving, we are all in shock, we’re angry, we’re numb,” he said.
Sources: BBC, CNN, Sputnik.