The man suspected of killing 18 people and injuring 13 others at a bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, officials said, ending a sweeping manhunt that had forced thousands of residents throughout the region to remain in their homes.
The body of the man, Robert R. Card II, 40, was found at a recycling center where he used to work, according to authorities briefed on the matter. The owner of Maine Recycling, Leo Madden, confirmed in an interview that the suspect had worked at the company, which is in Lisbon Falls, a little more than 10 miles southeast of Lewiston.
Commissioner Michael J. Sauschuck of the Maine Department of Public Safety said the body was found at 7:45 p.m. but did not specify when officials think the suspect died.
The hunt for Mr. Card had extended across much of a largely rural state with many potential hiding places, producing an atmosphere of high anxiety as helicopters whirred over farms and forests, police cruisers roared along rural roads and divers plunged into the chilly waters of the Androscoggin River.
Officials expressed relief that the suspect no longer posed a threat. “It will take a long, long time to process this pain, but Maine people have grit, resolve and heart and we will come together through this difficult grieving period and hope for brighter, calmer days,” said Senator Angus King in a statement.
But Leroy Walker Sr., 74, an Auburn city councilor whose son, Joseph Walker, 57, was killed in the shootings, said the suspect’s death brought him no resolution. “The feeling with me is no closure,” he said in a text message Friday night. Looking for more answers on the suspect, he said, “I was hoping for them to find him alive.”
He acknowledged, however, that the news would “make the community feel better. There will be no more danger from him.”
Before Mr. Card’s body was found, it was a day of stop-and-start searches.
The authorities had warned residents to prepare for a prolonged search, with heavily armed officers, armored vehicles, aircraft and dive teams scouring the region. Earlier on Friday, Lewiston’s police chief, David St. Pierre, had called it a “tense and trying time” for the city of nearly 40,000.
Mr. Sauschuck said that investigators had found “a note at one of these residences” tied to Mr. Card but would not discuss its contents. The police, he said, had received more than 500 tips.
At one point, officers swarmed a farm in Lisbon, about eight miles southeast of Lewiston, after a man said he heard what sounded like a gunshot. Later, they converged on a property at the end of a wooded dead-end road in nearby Durham. But there was no sign of Mr. Card at either location.
The discovery of the suspect’s body meant that businesses in Lewiston could reopen and people could once again venture outside without fear of running into a man the authorities had warned should be considered armed and dangerous. Bates College, in downtown Lewiston, had also been on lockdown.
Evan Wells, 21, a Bates College senior, said he had been in his dorm room when the lockdown began on Wednesday night and had barely been outside.
Wednesday’s rampage began just before 7 p.m., the authorities said, when a man carrying a semiautomatic rifle walked into Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley where dozens of children and parents and league members were playing, and began firing.
About 12 minutes later, the police received 911 calls for another shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille, about four miles away, where people were playing cornhole and billiards. When the shooting was done, 18 people had been killed and 13 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since May 2022, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
On Friday evening, officials released the names of the victims who were killed on Wednesday night and showed their photographs on a screen at Lewiston City Hall. They ranged in age from 14 to 76.
Late Friday night, Representative Jared Golden, the Democrat who lives in Lewiston, said that with the manhunt over, it is now “a time for mourning the loss of life and to honor the memory of each one of these members of our greater community.”
They included Bryan MacFarlane, 41, and Josh Seal, 36, who were part of a group of deaf people who reveled in their Wednesday night cornhole games at the bar, their families said.
“Some of them were really passionate about the competition, but really, it was just an opportunity for deaf folks to hang out together, apart from the hearing world, where they have to code switch constantly,” said Elizabeth Seal, 35, Mr. Seal’s wife, who is also deaf and signed through an interpreter in an interview. “To be together and communicate with your people in your language — it is priceless.”
Mr. Seal worked as an American Sign Language interpreter with the Pine Tree Society, a nonprofit that supports Maine residents with disabilities. During the coronavirus pandemic, he became a recognizable figure in the state as he provided interpretation at daily briefings by Dr. Nirav Shah, who was then Maine’s director of disease control and prevention.
She said she hopes the camp her husband started will be one of his legacies, benefiting their four children, who are 12, 9, 6 and 3, and others. “I hope it will continue,” she said. “In fact, I’m going to make sure of it.”
Mr. MacFarlane, 41, took pride in his job as a truck driver, loved hockey and had a tattoo of a fish on his leg, his mother, Janette Randazzo, said. His death, she said, made her part of a group no one wants to join: “We’re in a club now — the families of mass shooting victims.”
Little was known about what might have motivated the shooting.
Military officials said that Mr. Card was a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve, assigned to an infantry regiment in Saco, Maine, and had enlisted in 2002. He had no combat deployments and served as a petroleum supply specialist, shipping and storing vehicle and aircraft fuel.
Investigators were looking into a run-in Mr. Card had with officials during a recent visit to Camp Smith, a National Guard training facility not far from West Point in New York, a senior law enforcement official said on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the incident. The official said that Mr. Card was later evaluated at a mental health facility.
Amelia Nierenberg, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Glenn Thrush, Eduardo Medina, Anna Betts, Patricia Mazzei and Maia Coleman contributed reporting. Kirsten Noyes contributed research.