Tricia Asselin was enjoying a night off at bowling alley Just-in-Time Recreation in Lewiston, Maine — an establishment that her family had frequented for years – when she heard a shot ring out on Wednesday night.
Asselin, 53, had been standing with her sister Bobbi, and at first, neither registered the noise as a gunshot, Asselin’s mother Alicia Lachance tells Rolling Stone. The venue was busy and loud, with both a league night and a junior team practice happening. But as more shots were fired into the crowd around 7 p.m., everyone began running for the door.
Except for Asselin. “She ran to get her phone to call 911 to save the kids, and she was shot,” Lachance says. “It’s very emotional, but Tricia is the type of person who would have done anything for children and anybody. At her work at Walmart years ago, she gave mouth-to-mouth to a guy who was dead for 20 minutes because she was trying to revive him.”
Asselin’s family believes she is among the victims of a still-at-large gunman, who Maine officials say killed 18 people and injured at least 13 when the suspect opened fire at patrons at a family bowling alley and nearby bar Schemengees.
Police have identified firearms instructor Robert Card, 40, as a person of interest in the shooting, adding that he is considered armed and dangerous. Card had been trained at a U.S. Army Reserve training facility in Maine, according to a police bulletin reviewed by the Associated Press, and over the summer was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks. Card allegedly spoke of hearing voices and threatened to carry out a shooting at a military training base, according to the bulletin.
Lachance says that she was at home and watching Wheel of Fortune on Wednesday night when the program was interrupted by a breaking news alert over reports of a mass shooting. Her heart sank when she saw the photo of the gunman at the bowling alley that her family frequented. “My daughter worked there for a long time,” she says. “We all worked there — my whole family. We helped out because our friends owned the place.”
It was Lachance’s other daughter, Bobbi, who told their mother the news. When Bobbi had reached the exit door, she saw that Asselin had run back for her phone. “They pushed her out the door and shut the door. She goes, ‘My sister! My sister’s in there! My sister!’” Lachance says. “They told her that no one that is in there is alive.”
An inconsolable Bobbi was later put in a straightjacket and taken to the hospital, Lachance says. Still, as of Thursday afternoon, Lachance says she hasn’t heard from the police or the hospital offering any information on Asselin’s whereabouts.
At a press conference Thursday morning, officials announced that eight of the 18 victims had been identified and their families notified; as a result, Card faces an arrest warrant for eight counts of murder, with 10 more counts pending identification of the remaining victims.
Colonel William Ross of the Maine State Police said at the Thursday morning press conference that seven of the victims were killed at the initial shooting at the Sparetime Recreation, where six men and one woman were shot and killed. The shooting at Schemengees Bar and Grille resulted in additional deaths, including seven men inside the building and one man outside. Three more people — the genders of which were not revealed — died after being transferred to the hospital. Officials did not announce the ages of any of the victims.
Just-in-Time Recreation said in a statement, “None of this seems real, but unfortunately it is. We are devastated for our community and our staff. We lost some amazing and whole hearted people from our bowling family and community last night. There are no words to fix this or make it better. We praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts.”
On Thursday, The Daily Beast spoke with Card’s sister-in-law, Katie Card, who says their family has been trying to contact Card and have him surrender to police. “I have known Rob my whole life,” she said. “He is quiet but the most loving, hardworking, and kind person that I know. But in the past year, he had an acute episode of mental health, and it’s been a struggle.”
Lachance says Card is from a nearby town — and that her children had attended school with his family. “He’s a real sick person to kill a girl who didn’t do nothing,” she says. “He was a man on a mission. He was on a mission to go straight to hell, and I hope that they catch him. It should never happen again in this country. It has to stop.”