On Thursday night, the authorities surrounded a house in Bowdoin, where Card and his family lived, believing he was holed up inside – only to later find the property empty.

Several people in Lisbon had reported a sudden surge in police activity in town around 8pm on Friday night, as local, state and federal police continued the search.

“So happy this nightmare is over,” John Riordan, who lives near the scene, told the Portland Press Herald.

“Hopefully the families can get some closure. It will be nice to get back to some state of normalcy.”

Card’s rampage raised further questions about gun laws in the US and Maine in particular.

He had been admitted to a military medical facility in July after saying he had heard voices in his head.

Despite this, he had managed to obtain weapons. Pleas for help from his family were not acted upon.

One friend of the family told The Telegraph that the authorities had planned to confiscate his guns, but this was never carried out.

The slaughter has rekindled demands for the ban on assault weapons in the US, which lapsed in 2004, to be reinstated.

Supporters for the change include Jared Golden, the local Democratic congressman, who had previously opposed the move.

“I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles, like the one used by the perpetrator of this mass killing [in] my hometown.”

“I had the false confidence that our community was above this,” he added.

Biden calls for tough new gun laws

In a statement responding to Mr Card’s death, Joe Biden repeated his call for stricter gun laws and thanked police for their work in attempting to track him down.

“This has been a tragic two days – not just for Lewiston, Maine, but for our entire country,” the US president said.

“Once again, an American community and American families have been devastated by gun violence.

“In all, at least 18 souls brutally slain, more injured, some critically, and scores of family and friends praying and experiencing trauma no one ever wants to imagine.”

He added: “Tonight we’re grateful that Lewiston and surrounding communities are safe after spending excruciating days hiding in their homes.

“Americans should not have to live like this. I once again call on Republicans in Congress to fulfil their obligation to keep the American people safe.

“Until that day comes, I will continue to do everything in my power to end this gun violence epidemic. The Lewiston community – and all Americans – deserve nothing less.”

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