Wednesday night in Lewiston, eighteen people between the ages of 14 and 76 were killed in the worst mass shooting in Maine’s history.
After a two-day manhunt, the suspected shooter was found dead at 7:45pm Friday night — apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot wound — inside a trailer located in the overflow parking lot of the Maine Recycling Corporation (MRC).
Mike Sauschuck — Maine Commissioner of Public Safety — spoke to the press shortly after 10am Saturday morning to provide the public with additional information on the suspect’s death, as well as the investigation into the mass shootings more broadly.
Sauschuck revealed that the MRC’s property was originally considered to have been cleared as of Thursday after law enforcement completed a search of the primary “business footprint.”
Law enforcement had failed, however, to search the MRC’s overflow lot which was located across the street.
MRC’s owner then reached out to law enforcement directly to alert them to the presence of the overflow lot holding dozens of trailers, some locked and some unlocked.
This call prompted a follow up investigation from the Maine State Police Tactical Team, at which time they found the suspect dead inside one of the unlocked box trailers.
Sauschuck did not provide any indication of whether or not any of the more than one thousand tips and leads submitted to law enforcement pointed in the direction of the MRC overflow lot.
When asked if a police canine unit was used as part of the effort to track down the suspect, Sauschuck would not confirm one way or the other, but said that he could “only imagine, from a best practice standpoint, that of course they would do that.”
Evidence response teams were working through the weekend at Just In Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille, where the shootings occurred.
Sauschuck confirmed that the suspect had an employment relationship with MRC at some point, but he was unable to provide any further information concerning the details or timeline of that connection.
A time frame on the suspect’s time of death will not be known until an autopsy of his body is completed.
Sauschuck also addressed a handful of lingering questions about the ongoing investigation into Wednesday night’s mass shooting, although a large number of unknowns still remain.
Sauschuck has now confirmed reports that the note found in the suspect’s residence was addressed to a family member and provided details such as his bank account information and phone pass code.
Although he would not characterize it as a “suicide note,” Sauschuck did say that it indicated an expectation that the suspect would not be alive when it was found.
Sauschuck also shared that three firearms have been located as part of their investigation thus far — one in the suspect’s car and two on his body.
The firearm found in the suspect’s vehicle was confirmed to be a long gun, but no additional details were provided as to the types of guns found on his body.
All three firearms were purchased legally, some years ago and some much more recently.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least one of these firearms was purchased just ten days prior to an incident that occurred on a military base in July of this year that led to the suspect being brought in by police for a psychiatric evaluation and subsequent hospitalization.
Although Sauschuck stated that there was “clearly a mental health component to this,” he said that they “have not seen to this point” that the suspect was ever “forcibly committed for treatment.”
Consequently, Sauschuck said, “the background check [run by a firearms dealer] is not going to ping that this individual is prohibited.”
Sauschuck also noted during Saturday morning’s press briefing that the suspect’s family “has been incredibly cooperative” with law enforcement, stating that they were the first ones to reach out and positively identify the suspect.
A Family Assistance Center (FAC) has been set up in the Lewiston Armory — located at 65 Central Avenue — for victims and their families to access any and all resources they may need.
Also welcome at the FAC are those who were physically present at Just In Time Recreation or Schemengees Bar & Grille during the mass shootings but were not physically injured.
Starting today, the center will be open from 10am to 7pm.
The FAC will continue to operate until all victims have had an adequate amount of time to access the resources they need.
More information on the FAC can be found here.
The eighteen victims of Wednesday night’s mass shooting ranged in age from 14 to 76.
Of those who lost their lives that night at Just In Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille, there were sixteen men and two women.