The man suspected of fatally shooting more than a dozen people in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night is still at large, police said Thursday, as his family urged him to turn himself in.
Law enforcement officials are looking for Robert Card, 40, whom they said is considered armed and dangerous.
Card, a firearms instructor and a longtime Army reservist, began to hear voices that were saying “horrible” things about him about a couple of months ago when he was fitted for high-powered hearing aids, according to Katie Card, who is married to his brother.
She said his mental health had deteriorated quickly.
“He was picking up voices that he had never heard,” she told NBC News. “His mind was twisting them around. He was humiliated by the things that he thought were being said.”
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Card is accused of killing at least 18 people and injuring many others at a bar and bowling alley, police said.
At a news conference Thursday morning, law enforcement officials said he had moved from a person of interest to a suspect in the shootings.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Card, charging him with eight counts of murder, authorities said, adding that the counts are based on the identification of eight victims thus far.
“If people see him, they should not approach Card or make contact with him in any way,” Maine Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck told reporters.
Katie Card said the family did their best to reassure Robert Card that the comments were not real, including by verifying with some of the people he claimed had made the remarks.
But, she said, “it turned into a manic belief.”
She said the family has been continuously messaging him to tell him he’s loved and that “he needs to do the right thing” but has not heard from him.
“We don’t know this person. This is not him,” she said.
Officials urged residents of Lewiston and neighboring Auburn to shelter in place.
Authorities did not disclose any information about Card or his motive. The University of Maine confirmed that he studied engineering there from 2001 to 2004.
Maine court records show that a man named Robert Card who was born on the same date as the suspect was charged with speeding in 2001 and 2002. No other criminal records were listed in the state’s electronic court records system or in several other public records databases.
A bulletin put out by the Maine Information and Analysis Center, a database for law enforcement officials, said Card was a trained firearms instructor and was believed to be in the Army Reserve.
It added that law enforcement said Card “recently reported mental health issues to include hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, ME.”
The bulletin said Card was reported to have been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks this summer and then released. NBC News has not been able to independently verify the bulletin’s statements about Card’s history.
An Army spokesperson confirmed Card’s Reserve status, saying that he enlisted in December 2002 and had no combat deployments.
Liam Kent, 24, told NBC News that he grew up about a mile away from Card’s family and would occasionally see him around town.
Kent said the family is well known in the area and operates a construction business and described them as “Second Amendment enthusiasts” who embrace a “‘don’t tread on me’ mindset.”
Law enforcement officials said they were reviewing some social media postings associated with Card.
A spokesperson for the University of Maine said Card was enrolled there from 2001-04 and studied engineering technology but did not graduate.