Family of Maine Mass Shooter Alerted Authorities to Concerns Five Months Prior to Tragedy, Says Sheriff’s Office

by Joshua Brown
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Maine Mass Shooting Investigation

Authorities disclosed on Monday that the family of the individual responsible for Maine’s most devastating mass shooting had notified the local sheriff about their growing apprehensions regarding his worsening mental state and access to firearms, a full five months prior to the tragic incident.

The Sagadohoc County Sheriff’s Office subsequently consulted with officials from Robert Card’s Army Reserve unit. The unit assured the deputies that steps would be taken to provide Card with the necessary medical attention, according to Sheriff Joel Merry.

Reports indicate that the family’s worries about Card’s mental well-being predate their May contact with the sheriff’s office. This initiated the earliest in a series of police interactions with Card, a 40-year-old firearms instructor. Card later went on a violent rampage at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston last Wednesday, resulting in the death of 18 individuals and injuring 13 others.

Following a stressful two-day manhunt, Card was discovered deceased, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Prior Events and Warning Signs

Card had been subjected to a psychological assessment last summer after he accused fellow soldiers of labeling him a pedophile and secluded himself in his room during a training exercise in New York. Authorities revealed that a bulletin disseminated after the recent attack stated that Card had been confined to a mental health facility for a fortnight due to auditory hallucinations and declared intentions to attack a military base.

Monday’s document release by the sheriff’s office provided a comprehensive timeline of previously unheeded warning signs and unsuccessful attempts to prevent the mass shooting. On September 15, a deputy from the sheriff’s office conducted a wellness check at Card’s residence, spurred by concerns from a fellow soldier who feared Card might “snap” due to recurring auditory hallucinations. The deputy was unable to locate Card during this and a subsequent visit. A statewide alert was then issued to locate Card, cautioning that he was considered “armed and dangerous.”

The Army Reserve unit had become sufficiently alarmed to decide to confiscate Card’s military-issue firearms, according to information conveyed to the sheriff’s office. Lt. Col. Ruth Castro, an Army spokesperson, confirmed this account.

Weapons and Investigation

While searching for Card post-incident, numerous weapons were recovered, believed to have been legally purchased. This included a Ruger SFAR rifle found in his vehicle and a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and Smith & Wesson M&P .40-caliber handgun found near his corpse.

Though authorities have not confirmed whether the October 25 rampage was premeditated, Card had unsuccessfully attempted to acquire a silencer nearly three months prior, according to a gun shop owner in Auburn.

Federal authorities had approved the sale until Card disclosed a history of mental health commitment on the required form. Due to this, the sale was immediately denied, said Rick LaChapelle, the shop owner.

Government Response

Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, held a contentious press conference to discuss the state’s response but declined to divulge details of the ongoing investigation. She confirmed that Maine’s gun control laws would be revisited in the wake of the tragedy.

Card’s life came to an end in a trailer at a recycling facility in Lisbon Falls, although the exact time of his death remains unclear.

The incident has left the residents of Maine, a state of 1.3 million with a comparatively low rate of violent crime, in a state of shock and mourning.

Contributing Journalists

Contributions to this report were made by Patrick Whittle in Portland, David R. Martin and Matt Rourke in Lewiston, Maine, Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington, D.C., Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville, Bernard Condon in New York, and Michael Casey in Boston.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maine Mass Shooting Investigation

What prompted the family of Robert Card to contact the Sagadohoc County Sheriff’s Office?

The family of Robert Card contacted the sheriff’s office due to their growing concerns about his deteriorating mental health, particularly while he had access to firearms.

Who did the sheriff’s office consult after being alerted by Card’s family?

After being alerted by Card’s family, the Sagadohoc County Sheriff’s Office reached out to officials from Robert Card’s Army Reserve unit to discuss the concerns and possible medical intervention.

What measures were taken by Robert Card’s Army Reserve unit?

The Army Reserve unit assured the sheriff’s office that they would speak with Card and ensure that he received medical attention. Later, as concerns grew, the reserve unit decided to confiscate his military-issued firearms.

How many victims were there in the mass shooting carried out by Robert Card?

Robert Card killed 18 people and wounded 13 others during his violent spree at a Lewiston bowling alley and a bar.

Was Robert Card under any mental health evaluation prior to the incident?

Yes, Robert Card had undergone a mental health evaluation last summer after accusing soldiers of calling him a pedophile. He had also been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks for hearing voices and expressing threats.

What types of firearms were found in possession of Robert Card after the incident?

Authorities recovered a Ruger SFAR rifle found in his vehicle and a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle along with a Smith & Wesson M&P .40-caliber handgun near his body.

Was there any governmental response to the incident?

Governor Janet Mills held a press conference discussing the state’s response and mentioned that Maine’s gun control laws would be revisited, although she did not provide specific details of any investigation findings.

Where and when was Robert Card found after the mass shooting?

Robert Card was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a trailer at a recycling center in Lisbon Falls. The exact time of his death remains unclear.

What has been the community response to the tragedy?

The community has been in a state of shock and mourning, with over 1,000 people attending a vigil at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul in Lewiston.

Were there any prior indications or warning signs regarding Robert Card’s actions?

Yes, there were multiple interactions and warnings, including a wellness check and a statewide alert describing him as “armed and dangerous.” Despite these signs, efforts to intervene were not successful in preventing the tragedy.

More about Maine Mass Shooting Investigation

  • Mental Health Resources and Gun Control
  • Sagadohoc County Sheriff’s Office Statement
  • Governor Janet Mills’ Press Conference
  • Maine’s Current Gun Control Laws
  • Army Reserve Mental Health Policies
  • Lewiston Community Response and Vigils
  • National Database on U.S. Mass Killings
  • Federal Regulations on Firearm Suppressors

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