President Joe Biden called the mass-shooting in Maine ‘another senseless and tragic’ event and urged residents to ‘heed the warnings and guidance of local officials’ as the suspect remains at large.
He also said the federal government wasn’t doing enough to deter such events and called on Republicans in Congress to work with him on legislation to ban assault rifles and expand background checks.
‘Today, in the wake of yet another tragedy, I urge Republican lawmakers in Congress to fulfill their duty to protect the American people. Work with us to pass a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to enact universal background checks, to require safe storage of guns, and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers.
‘This is the very least we owe every American who will now bear the scars — physical and mental — of this latest attack.’
At least 18 people were killed in Maine during Wednesday night’s mass shooting at Sparetime Recreation and Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston. And 13 people were injured according to Maine Gov. Janet Mills.
President Biden called Maine shooting ‘senseless’
And White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that more must be done.
‘This is not normal. We cannot accept this. There have been literally hundreds of mass shootings in the last year alone, leaving empty seats at dinner tables across the country. And leaving those who survive these heinous acts, both physically and mentally scarred,’ she said.
‘And while we have made progress since the President signed the bipartisan Ssafer Communities Act into law much, much more, much more must be done.’
Biden stepped out of Wednesday night’s state dinner for Australia to be briefed by his advisors on the latest mass shooting.
He also called Maine officials – Gov. Janet Mills, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and Representative Jared Golden – to offer federal support.
The president also left the state dinner early, shortly after 10pm. Biden has been using his executive power to work to combat gun violence given that legislative efforts have gotten stuck on Capitol Hill.
In 2022, Congress passed major gun legislation although it did not contain all the items Biden had pushed for. It expanded background checks and provided millions of dollars for mental health services and school security initiatives.
Biden has advocated for re-instating the national assault weapons ban but with Republicans now in control of the House and Democrats running the Senate, passing legislation on Capitol Hill is a tough prospect.
In addition to his statement on Thursday, Biden ordered flags at the White House and federal buildings to half-staff until October 30.
Mills said she has spoken about the shooting twice with President Biden, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris on Thursday said that Lewiston became yet another community torn apart by senseless gun violence.
‘Doug and I mourn for those who were killed and grieve for those who were injured,’ she said.
‘We must continue to speak truth about the moment we are in today,’ she said, noting gun violence is the leading cause of death.
‘It does not have to be this way, as our friends in Australia have demonstrated,’ she noted in remarks at the State Department.
Other officials expressed their support for the victims and their families with Republican statements focused on prayers.
New House Speaker Mike Johnson said ‘our hearts go out to all those involved.’
‘This is a this is a dark time in America. We have a lot of problems and we’re really, really hopeful and prayerful. Prayer is appropriate at a time like this,’ he told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday morning.
‘So, that’s the statement this morning on behalf of the entire House of Representatives. Everyone wants this to end, and I’ll leave it there.’
Police have named previously sectioned Army reserve firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. Card is from Bowdoin, and his car was found abandoned in Lisbon shortly after the shooting
The gunman targeted Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston at around 7pm on Wednesday before shooting at the nearby Schemengees Bar and Grille
A woman is hugged by a man at a reunification center at Auburn Middle School after shootings in Lewiston, Maine
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called for the suspect to be brought to justice.
‘I was devastated to hear the news last night of a deadly shooting in Lewiston, Maine. I know the entire Senate stands behind our colleagues, Senator Collins and Senator King, as they help their state marshal its response,’ he said.
‘We pray especially for the victims of this senseless violence, for their families, and for the law enforcement personnel working tirelessly to save lives and bring the suspect to justice.’
The suspect remained at large overnight sparking a massive manhunt and lockdown across the state.
Police have named previously sectioned Army reserve firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest. Card is from Bowdoin, and his car was found abandoned in Lisbon shortly after the shooting.
The FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals are providing investigative support and victim assistance services in connection with the Maine shootings, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Thursday.
‘I am heartbroken for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have been injured, and for the entire Lewiston community,’ he said. ‘No community should have to endure the horrific mass shootings that have become routine in our country.’
Author Stephen King responded to the shootings Thursday morning in a pair of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter.
‘The shootings occurred less than 50 miles from where I live. I went to high school in Lisbon. It´s the rapid-fire killing machines, people. This is madness in the name of freedom. Stop electing apologists for murder,’ he wrote.
Stretchers are lined up outside the emergency room at Central Maine Medical Center following shootings in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Biden stepped away from the state dinner honoring Australia for a briefing on the shooting with his advisers, before returning. But he later left the dinner early
Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine
Maine doesn’t require permits to carry guns, and the state has a longstanding culture of gun ownership that is tied to its traditions of hunting and sport shooting.
The shooter used an AR-15-style rifle to open fire inside the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley at about 7pm Wednesday before targeting Schemengees Bar and Grille around four miles away.
The suspect is ‘considered armed and dangerous,’ Mills said at a press conference Thursday morning.
The shooting in the state´s second-largest city is the 36th mass killing in the United States this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
A police bulletin describes the suspect, Card, as a firearms instructor believed to be in the Army Reserve and assigned to a training facility in Saco, Maine.
The document, circulated to law enforcement officials, said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks in the summer of 2023.
It did not provide details about his treatment or condition, but said Card had reported ‘hearing voices and threats to shoot up’ the military base.