Families of Maine shooting victims divided over shooter’s death

The families of the victims of last week’s mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine are divided over the death of suspect Robert Card, with some saying it was the “ideal outcome”, but others still desperate for answers over the tragedy.

A major police manhunt ended on Friday evening more than 48 hours after the gunman attacked two sites in the city of Lewiston, killing 18 people and wounding 13 more. Card was found dead in a woodland area near to where the shootings took place.

He is believed to have taken his own life.

All 18 of the victims were identified during a press conference on Friday, with the ages of the deceased ranging from 14 to 76 years old. Families have expressed relief at news of Card’s death, but said many questions will now likely remain unanswered.

Speaking to CNN, Elizabeth Seal, wife of ASL interpreter Joshua Seal, who was killed in the shootings, said that it was “important” that Card had been found.

Mourners look at pictures of the victims during a vigil for the victims of the deadly mass shooting, at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, in Lewiston, Maine (REUTERS)
Mourners look at pictures of the victims during a vigil for the victims of the deadly mass shooting, at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, in Lewiston, Maine (REUTERS)

“I wanted him to be apprehended. I wanted to ask questions that will not be answered. Why did you do this? What was the motive? Why would you hurt so many families?” she said.

On Card’s death she added “It’s important that he was found and he’s gone.”

Among those also killed in the shootings was Bill Young and his 14-year-old son Aaron Young, who were caught up in the violence at the Just-In-Time bowling alley. Young’s brother Rob Young told CNNthat Card’s death was the “ideal outcome”.

“No ‘why’ would ever bring my brother and my nephew back … We didn’t want to sit through a trial. We didn’t … want to see all the gruesome details,” he said.

The Maine shooting victims (Maine Police Department)
The Maine shooting victims (Maine Police Department)

Tammy Asselin, whose cousin Tricia Asselin was killed in the shooting, said she wants to know why the gunman targeted the locations, and why he fired when children were there.

“It is just those ‘why’ questions that unfortunately are left unanswered and we will probably never have those answers to,” she said.

Asselin – who had attempted to call 911 as the killings were being carried out – was previously described as a “hero” by here sister Bobbi-Lynn Nichols, who was present at the bowling alley during the shooting, but was able to escape.

Tricia Asselin was trying to call 911 when she was shot (Facebook)
Tricia Asselin was trying to call 911 when she was shot (Facebook)

An FBI investigation into the incidents is still ongoing. FBI Boston Division Special Agent Jodi Cohen said care of the victims and their families was her top priority. “Even though the suspect was found deceased last night, our work does not stop,” Ms Cohen said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“There are many questions that need to be answered, there is a lot of evidence to be processed, and, most importantly, the victims and their families deserve special care and consideration.

“Today, we are opening the family assistance center to do everything we can to meet the needs of those whose lives have been changed forever. The FBI has over 40 victim specialists from all over the country who are here to support our partners in meeting the needs of the victims and their loved ones.”

She continued: “The toll this type of tragedy takes on victims and their families is immeasurable, and we ask everyone to respect their privacy at this difficult time.

“We also ask the public to be patient as law enforcement continues to run every lead to ground so we can get the victims, their families, and the community the answers they deserve.”

Thousands of Maine residents from near and far headed to a vigil on Sunday night at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The church holds 2,200, but authorities had already set up a large outdoor screen on church grounds to deal with overflow before services began.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope and you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are based in the UK, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.