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Suspect in Multiple Homicides Had Documented Mental Health Challenges, Acquired Firearms Within Legal Framework, Confirm Officials

by Ryan Lee
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Mass Shooting Suspect's Mental Health and Legal Firearm Acquisition

Suspect in Multiple Homicides Had Documented Mental Health Challenges, Acquired Firearms Within Legal Framework, Confirm Officials

Authorities announced on Saturday that a U.S. Army reservist, responsible for an indiscriminate shooting at a bowling alley and a bar in Maine earlier this week that resulted in 18 fatalities, had legally obtained the firearms used in the attack. The perpetrator, identified as Robert Card, a 40-year-old firearms instructor from Bowdoin, Maine, likely carried out the assault owing to unresolved mental health problems.

Card’s lifeless body was discovered on Friday in a trailer at a Lisbon Falls recycling facility, a location that had been subjected to a police search just a day prior. The cause of death has been determined to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to official reports.

Card is also implicated in causing injuries to 13 other individuals during the mass shooting event that occurred on Wednesday evening in Lewiston, Maine.

Michael Sauschuck, Commissioner of the State Department of Public Safety, revealed that law enforcement personnel thoroughly inspected the property of Maine Recycling Corp., where Card had been previously employed. Card’s body, along with multiple firearms, was found in a trailer on the property during a subsequent search on Friday.

Jim Ferguson, the Boston-based Special Agent in Charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, stated to The Big Big News that all recovered firearms were lawfully purchased. While he did not disclose specific details regarding the type or number of weapons found, he confirmed that the number exceeded three.

Addressing the issue of Card’s mental health, Commissioner Sauschuck indicated that while Card had a known history of mental illness, there was no evidence to suggest that he had ever been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution. In Maine, such a commitment would have precluded him from owning firearms.

According to Maine’s yellow flag law, police have the authority to detain an individual suspected of being mentally unwell and a potential danger to themselves or others. However, a medical evaluation is necessary before a court can order the seizure of the individual’s firearms.

Sauschuck emphasized that despite the mental health component in this particular case, the vast majority of individuals diagnosed with mental health issues are not a danger to others.

A written note found at Card’s residence did not explicitly serve as a suicide note, according to Sauschuck, but its tone suggested such an intent. The note contained a passcode for Card’s phone and bank account information and was addressed to a loved one.

Community life has begun to normalize in Lewiston, a city of 37,000 residents, after a period of lockdown following the incident. State officials and community leaders are rallying the populace to come together in the aftermath of what has been deemed the deadliest shooting in Maine’s history.

This tragic event serves as the 36th mass killing in the United States for the current year, according to data compiled by The Big Big News in conjunction with USA Today and Northeastern University.


Contributors to this report include Big Big News journalists Robert Bukaty and Robert Bumsted in Lewiston; Michael Balsamo in New York; and Michael Casey in Boston. The article is filed from Portland, Maine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mass Shooting Suspect’s Mental Health and Legal Firearm Acquisition

What happened in the recent mass shooting in Maine?

A U.S. Army reservist named Robert Card carried out a mass shooting at a bowling alley and a bar in Maine, resulting in 18 fatalities and 13 injuries. He was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a recycling center in Lisbon Falls.

Who was the perpetrator and what was his background?

The perpetrator was Robert Card, a 40-year-old U.S. Army reservist and firearms instructor from Bowdoin, Maine. Authorities confirmed that he had a history of mental health issues.

How did Robert Card obtain the firearms used in the shooting?

Robert Card acquired the firearms legally. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that the weapons used in the attack were purchased within the framework of the law.

Was Robert Card’s mental health a factor in the incident?

Yes, according to State Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck, Robert Card had a history of mental health issues. While it is not confirmed, it is believed that his actions were influenced by his mental condition, possibly including paranoia and auditory hallucinations.

Did Maine’s laws prevent Robert Card from owning firearms?

No, Maine law did not prevent Card from owning firearms as he had never been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. Maine has a “yellow flag” law that allows for temporary firearm confiscation, but it requires a medical practitioner’s evaluation and a court order, and there was no such intervention in Card’s case.

What is the current state of the community after the incident?

Life in Lewiston, Maine, is gradually returning to normal after a period of lockdown. Authorities have lifted the stay-at-home order, and community leaders are encouraging residents to come together in the aftermath of the tragic event.

How are the authorities responding post-incident?

A Family Assistance Center has been opened in Lewiston to offer support and help to the victims. Furthermore, an extensive investigation is ongoing, involving multiple agencies such as local police, the FBI, and other law enforcement officials.

How many mass killings have occurred in the U.S. this year?

The incident in Maine marks the 36th mass killing in the United States for the current year, according to a database maintained by The Big Big News, USA Today, and Northeastern University.

Was a suicide note found at Robert Card’s residence?

A note was found in Card’s home, but it was not explicitly identified as a suicide note. However, the tone of the note suggested an intent towards self-harm, and it included a passcode for his phone and bank account numbers.

Are there any notable statements from officials regarding the tragedy?

Maine Governor Janet Mills expressed relief that Robert Card was no longer a threat and called for the healing process to begin. Commissioner Sauschuck emphasized the need for mental health awareness while also noting that most individuals with mental health diagnoses do not pose a danger to others.

More about Mass Shooting Suspect’s Mental Health and Legal Firearm Acquisition

  • Mass Shootings in the U.S. Statistics
  • Maine’s Yellow Flag Law Explained
  • Mental Health and Gun Ownership: Legal Framework
  • Overview of U.S. Army Reserve
  • ATF Regulations on Firearm Purchases
  • Maine Department of Public Safety
  • Support Centers for Victims of Violent Crimes
  • FBI’s Role in Mass Shooting Investigations
  • U.S. Mental Health Care System Overview
  • Community Response to Traumatic Events

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8 comments

Steven H. October 28, 2023 - 7:34 pm

Is there any more info on why he targeted the bowling alley and the bar specifically? Seems kinda random to me.

Reply
Emily R. October 29, 2023 - 12:03 am

this is exactly why we need better mental health care, not just in Maine but everywhere. How many more lives have to be lost?

Reply
Karen M. October 29, 2023 - 6:34 am

I can’t even imagine what the families of the victims are going through right now. Prayers for everyone involved.

Reply
Rachel G. October 29, 2023 - 7:39 am

Just awful, 18 people lost their lives and for what? This should be a wake up call to authorities to be more proactive.

Reply
Mike T October 29, 2023 - 8:49 am

Can’t believe the guy was in the Army reserve. You’d think they would’ve caught signs of his issues and done something bout it.

Reply
Sarah L. October 29, 2023 - 12:39 pm

it’s heartbreaking to hear about this kind of violence happening so close to home. I live in Maine and we’re usually a tight knit community, not used to this sorta tragedy.

Reply
Paul W. October 29, 2023 - 3:07 pm

What’s the point of having yellow or red flag laws if they dont actually stop anyone? Needs a serious rethink, that’s for sure.

Reply
John D. October 29, 2023 - 6:21 pm

Wow, this is seriously messed up. How can someone with mental health issues still be allowed to own guns? Isn’t that what laws are for, to prevent this sort of thing?

Reply

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