/ 27 October 2023

A mass shooting in Maine and a crime closer to home

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The Squiz 

At least 18 people are dead and 13 injured after one suspect went on a shooting spree at 2 locations in Lewiston, Maine. It’s the 565th mass shooting in the gun-toting nation this year – but it’s the biggest mass casualty event since the Uvalde school shooting in Texas in 2022. The search for the alleged shooter – 40yo Robert Card – is ongoing after he targeted people at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar and Grille restaurant. Reports say he’s an Army Reservist and certified firearms instructor, and CCTV images of him walking into the bowling alley with a semiautomatic rifle were released yesterday as part of authorities’ efforts to find him. Card is still on the loose, and residents of Lewiston and neighbouring towns have been put into lockdown.

What happened?

The shootings began a bit before 7pm on Wednesday night local time – police say he went to the bowling alley first, and about 12 minutes later, he was at the restaurant. A local nurse – one of the 100 health workers called in to deal with the aftermath – said several teenagers died and were injured after attending a youth night at the bowling alley. Maine is a rural state in America’s northeast – it has a strong hunting culture among the nation’s highest gun ownership rates. But when it comes to violent crime, its rates are some of the lowest in the US. Overnight, Maine Governor Janet Mills said that the city’s 36,000 people “did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does – no state, no people.”

And what about crime closer to home?

Yes, because there was a murder in Sydney that got a lot of attention yesterday. Police are searching for Paul Thijssen, a sports assistant at the prestigious St Andrew’s Cathedral School after water polo coach Lilie James was found dead on school grounds on Wednesday night. A second crime scene was also set up in Vaucluse after items “associated with the homicide” were found near one of the ocean-front cliffs. Both are in their early 20s, and police say they’d been in a short relationship that she ended recently. Reports this morning say it was Thijssen who called 000 to tell them where to find her, but it’s unknown if he made any admissions. Yesterday, NSW Premier Chris Minns said it was  a ‘“horrible, horrible’” crime – “one of the worst that I’ve seen in my public life.” St Andrew’s has brought in counsellors to support students and parents, and the school remains closed today.

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