The small town of Lewiston was shocked when 18 residents, family members and friends were gunned down in the latest mass shooting in the United States.
The shooter – identified as suspect Robert Card – first targeted the popular Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley just before 7 p.m., killing seven people.
The suspect then went to the Schemengees Bar & Grille restaurant and opened fire there a few minutes later, according to authorities.
Seven men were killed inside the restaurant and one man was killed outside.
Three other victims died after being taken to a local hospital, while 13 others were injured in the attacks.
Mr Card – a 40-year-old US Army reservist – has disappeared, plunging a grieving community into a deeper fear of what he might do next.
More than 48 hours later, police announced that Mr. Card had been found deceased, although many questions remain.
The motive is still unknown.
And the question of whether this could have been avoided is now at the center of the debate.
Here The independent looks at the questions that remained unanswered.
Where is suspect Robert Card?
Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck confirmed Friday evening that Robert Card’s body was found in a wooded area, about eight miles from the scene of the shooting.
A member of the US Army Reserve reportedly committed suicide in an area near a recycling facility from which he had recently been discharged, CNN reported.
Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mike Sauschuck said the body was found at 7:45 p.m. ET and that he called the shooter’s family before the news conference.
“They lost a loved one in this scenario, and many members of this family have been very cooperative with us throughout. So they deserved that phone call,” he said.
Prior to that, Mr. Card had not been seen since he allegedly opened fire at a Lewiston bar Wednesday night.
Investigators traced his vehicle to a landing stage in Lisbon – about 13km from the crime scene – hours later.
Since then, multiple law enforcement agencies have scoured Maine counties to find him and residents of Auburn, Lewiston, Lisbon and Bowdoin have all been asked to shelter in place.
Speculation grew that police were closing in on the suspect Thursday evening when a dramatic raid was carried out at Mr. Card’s Bowdoin home.
Maine police and FBI agents were heard shouting “FBI!” Open the door!” before entering the property.
The dramatic scene, however, ended without any arrests or any sign of US Army reservists.
On Friday, authorities said divers had joined the search, scouring the waterways near the landing where Mr. Card’s vehicle was found abandoned.
Mr Sauschuck said dive teams were searching for evidence as well as “potential bodies” in the Androscoggin River – raising questions about whether he had entered the river that night.
What was the motive for the attack?
The motive remains a mystery, with authorities offering no clues as to what might have driven Mr. Card to carry out the attack.
However, Sauschuck confirmed during an initial press conference Friday that the suspect left behind a mysterious note after allegedly going on a rampage.
Authorities have refused to reveal the contents of the note, suggesting it could indicate a possible motive for the killings.
Police sources previously told ABC News that a “suicide note” addressed to his son was found at Mr Card’s home during a search.
The sources said the note contained the suspect’s ramblings as well as some personal information such as his bank account details.
In addition to the note, a law enforcement official told CNN that Mr. Card’s cellphone was also recovered.
Mr Card’s family members reportedly cooperated with the investigation and suggested he may have been looking for an ex-girlfriend at one of the filming locations, ABC News reported.
It is not clear who this former partner is – or whether this was a motive for the shooting – but court records show that Mr. Card was divorced from his ex-wife in 2007.
In 2013, the court granted them both shared parental rights over their child, who lives primarily with his mother.
Mr Card’s family said the US Army reservist had mental health issues in the months before the mass shooting.
His sister-in-law Karen Card said The daily beast that “last year he had an acute mental health episode, and it was a struggle.”
In a law enforcement bulletin sent Wednesday, officials said Mr. Card had recently threatened to commit a shooting at a National Guard facility in Saco and had reported mental health issues, including hearing voice.
He spent two weeks in a mental health facility this summer after military officials at West Point sent him for an evaluation.
Ms Card said the situation had deteriorated further recently.
The suspect had started wearing hearing aids for his hearing loss and said he could now hear people talking bad about him – including at the bowling alley and at the restaurant where the shooting took place.
Wednesday evening, a cornhole competition for members of the deaf community was held at the restaurant.
Several community members were killed in the shooting.
Could the shootings have been avoided?
The warning signs appear to have been there with Mr. Card – with his threats against a National Guard base and his serious mental health problems.
Today, questions are being asked about whether the mass shooting could have been avoided if steps had been taken to prevent him from having access to guns.
Maine has very lax gun laws and people do not need a license or background check to purchase or conceal a firearm. Possession of semi-automatic weapons is also legal in the state.
The state also does not have a whistleblower law in place – a law used to prevent individuals from purchasing or possessing firearms if they fear being a danger to themselves or others .
However, there is a yellow flag law that allows family members to contact law enforcement and request a temporary order barring a loved one from accessing firearms if they appear to be suffering from a seizure. Mental Health.
By law, the individual must first be taken into custody for a medical evaluation – which is what happened to Mr. Card this summer.
On Thursday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins said the yellow flag law should have been used.
“I don’t know if there was a report triggering the yellow flag law,” she said during a press briefing.
“It certainly seems that, based on the facts we have, the yellow flag should have been raised.
“If, in fact, the suspect had been hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness, that should have triggered the yellow flag law and he should have been separated from his weapons. I’m sure that in retrospect this will be looked at very closely.
It is unclear what happened after his stay in a psychiatric facility.
It is also unclear whether Mr. Card’s family or military officials took steps to limit his access to firearms.