LEWISTON, Maine — Local police training at a nearby firing range took just 90 seconds from the first 911 call to get to the bowling alley targeted by a mass shooter on Wednesday, Maine’s top police official said Friday.
But the shooter had left the Just-In-Time Recreation in a suburban area on Mollison Way and was likely on his way to his second target at Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant on Lincoln Street, near the Androscoggin River in the heart of the city.
The new information from Michael Sauschuck, Maine’s public safety commissioner, showed a lightning-quick police response that nonetheless came too late to stop the man who killed 18 people between the two scenes. It is still unclear how long the shootings lasted.
The suspect, named by police as 40-year-old Robert R. Card II of Bowdoin, remains at large and the subject of a historic manhunt that entered its second full day on Friday, when police were heavily focused on an area in Lisbon along the Androscoggin River.
At 6:56 p.m., the first of two mass shootings in Lewiston on Wednesday was called in at Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley at 24 Mollison Way. The plainclothes Lewiston officers heard the call from a nearby shooting range and got to the bowling alley in 90 seconds, Sauschuck said.
The shooter had already left for the bar, an 11-minute drive from the bowling alley. An eyewitness has said the shooter drove away so casually in a white Subaru that a patron hiding in the woods did not realize it was the suspect until later that night, when police found a car associated with Card matching that description in Lisbon.
At 7 p.m., the first uniformed Lewiston police officer arrived at the bowling alley. Eight more officers got there a minute later, Sauschuck said. The first state trooper arrived at 7:07 p.m., 11 minutes after the first shooting was called in, Sauschuck said.
“That’s a pretty good response, considering it’s an urban atmosphere and troopers aren’t here,” Sauschuck said Friday.
At 7:08 p.m., police got the call that a second shooting had happened 4 miles away at Schemengees. Both state and Lewiston police got there 5 minutes later, Sauschuck said, despite state police not getting the call until 7:10 p.m.
The initial response time is an elite one by national standards. In 51 mass shootings tracked by the U.S. Department of Justice, police took a median period of 3 minutes to respond. Law enforcement responding within 5 minutes of a crime are far more likely to solve it and that success rates fall after that, according to research dating back to the 1980s.
Despite receiving upwards of 530 tips on Card’s whereabouts in the two days since the shootings, police have not yet had a confirmed sighting of the suspect, Sauschuck confirmed. Police recovered a suicide note from Card addressed to his son, ABC News reported on Thursday. The Maine State Police confirmed they found a note at Card’s property but did not comment on its contents.
A search that began this morning of the Androscoggin River and Paper Mill trailhead boat launch where the suspect’s car was found Wednesday night will likely continue into the weekend as more resources from out of state show up to help local law enforcement, Sauschuck said.
All shelter in place orders imposed on Lewiston, Lisbon, Bowdoin and surrounding areas were lifted as of Friday evening, though a ban on hunting in four towns — Bowdoin, Lewiston, Lisbon and Monmouth — was imposed instead as the search for Card continues.