WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will travel to Maine later this week to mourn with the community of Lewiston after 18 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in state history, the White House said Wednesday.
Thirteen people were injured in the Oct. 25 shootings at a bar and a bowling alley.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden will go Friday to pay their respects to the victims, meet with first responders and others and will “grieve with families and community members,” the White House said in a statement.
The alleged gunman, Robert Card, 40, was found dead of an apparent suicide after a dayslong manhunt that led officials to cancel school and order residents to stay indoors.
Investigators have yet to establish a motive but have increasingly focused on the mental health of Card, who was a firearms instructor.
Authorities said this week that Card’s family had brought their concerns about his deteriorating mental health to the local sheriff five months before the deadly rampage. Card had also undergone a mental health evaluation after he began behaving erratically at a training facility last summer.
Several thousand people attended vigils for the victims over the weekend, and residents started returning to work and school on Monday after stay-at-home orders were lifted.
Biden was alerted about the shooting as he hosted a White House state dinner honoring the bonds between the United States and Australia. He later stepped out of the event to speak by telephone with Maine Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s representatives in Congress.
In a written statement, the president decried the “senseless and tragic” shooting and urged Republicans in Congress to help pass legislation that would outlaw assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, enact universal background checks, require that guns be stored safely and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers.
Biden also ordered that U.S. flags on public property be flown at half-staff through Monday out of respect for the victims.
Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.