AP (NEW)

Maine mass shooter’s family reached out to sheriff 5 months before rampage, sheriff’s office says

Oct 31, 2023, 7:00 AM

Law enforcement officers use an underwater robotic camera to search the water around the Pejepscot ...

LISBON, MAINE - OCTOBER 27: Law enforcement officers use an underwater robotic camera to search the water around the Pejepscot Boat Ramp on the Androscoggin River where the suspect being searched for in connection with two mass shootings abandoned his vehicle on October 27, 2023 in Lisbon, Maine. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Five months before the deadliest mass shooting in Maine’s history, the gunman’s family alerted the local sheriff that they were becoming concerned about his deteriorating mental health while he had access to firearms, authorities said Monday.

After the alert, the Sagadohoc County Sheriff’s Office reached out to officials of Robert Card’s Army Reserve unit, which assured deputies that they would speak to Card and make sure he got medical attention, Sheriff Joel Merry said.

The family’s concern about Card’s mental health dated back to early this year before the sheriff’s office was contacted in May, marking the earliest in a string of interactions that police had with the 40-year-old firearms instructor before he marched a Lewiston bowling alley and a bar last Wednesday, killing 18 people and wounding 13 others.

After an intensive two-day search that put residents on edge, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Card underwent a mental health evaluation last summer after accusing soldiers of calling him a pedophile, shoving one and locking himself in his room during training in New York, officials said. A bulletin sent to police shortly after last week’s attack said Card had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks after “hearing voices and threats to shoot up” a military base.

Documents released from the sheriff on Monday gave the most detailed timeline yet of other warning signs and failed efforts to stop the gunman months before he killed.

On Sept. 15, a sheriff’s deputy was sent to visit Card’s home for a wellness check at the request of the reserve unit after a soldier said he was afraid Card was “going to snap and commit a mass shooting” because he was hearing voices again. The deputy went to Card’s trailer but could not find him — nor the next day on a return visit. The sheriff’s department then sent out a statewide alert for help locating Card with a warning that he was known to be “armed and dangerous” and that officers should use extreme caution.

By this time, Card’s reserve unit had grown sufficiently concerned that it had decided to take away his military-issued firearms, the sheriff’s office was told. Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ruth Castro confirmed that account, adding that Card was also declared “non-deployable” and that multiple attempts were made to contact him.

According to the deputy’s report after visiting Card’s home, he reached out to the reserves’ unit commander who assured him the Army was trying to get treatment for Card. The commander also said he thought “it best to let Card have time to himself for a bit.”

The deputy then reached out to Card’s brother. The brother said he had put Card’s firearms in a gun safe in the family farm and would work with their father to move the guns somewhere else and make sure Card couldn’t get other firearms.

Authorities recovered a multitude of weapons while searching for Card after the shooting and believe he had legally purchased them, including a Ruger SFAR rifle found in his car, officials said Monday. A Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and Smith & Wesson M&P .40-caliber handgun were with his body.

Authorities have not said whether they believe Card planned the Oct. 25 rampage in advance. Nearly three months ago, he tried and failed to acquire a device used to quiet gunshots, a gun shop owner in Auburn said.

Rick LaChapelle, owner of Coastal Defense Firearms, said Card purchased a suppressor, also called a silencer, online and arranged to pick it up at his shop.

Card already had submitted information to the federal government to purchase it, and federal authorities had approved the sale to that point, he said.

When Card filled out the form at LaChapelle’s gun shop to pick up the silencer Aug. 5, he answered “yes” to the question: “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”

“As soon as he answered that ‘yes’ we know automatically that this is disqualifying, he’s not getting a silencer today,” LaChapelle said.

Silencers are more heavily regulated under federal law than most firearms. Federal law requires buyers to apply with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and be approved. The dealer must do a background check ,too

He said Card was polite when notified of the denial, mentioned something about the military and said he would “come right back” after consulting his lawyer.

Investigators are facing increasing public scrutiny and still searching for a motive for the massacre but have increasingly focused on Card’s mental health history.

On Monday, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, held a news conference to provide an update on the response to the shooting. The conference turned contentious quickly when Mills declined to provide information about what the investigation has turned up so far.

Mills said state lawmakers would revisit Maine gun control laws. Proposals for tighter laws have stalled or failed in recent legislative sessions.

“I’m not going to stand here today and tell you I’m proposing X, Y and Z,” she said. “I’m here to listen, work with others and get people around the table as promptly as possible.”

Card’s body was found late Friday in a trailer at a recycling center in Lisbon Falls, but it was unclear when he died.

Residents of Lewiston returned to work Monday, the morning after coming together to mourn those lost in the shootings. More than 1,000 people attended Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul for a vigil in Lewiston.

The deadliest shooting in Maine’s history stunned a state of 1.3 million people that has relatively little violent crime and only 29 killings in all of 2022.

The Lewiston shootings were the 36th mass killing in the U.S. this year, according to a database maintained by the AP and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. The database includes every mass killing since 2006 from all weapons in which four or more people, excluding the offender, were killed within a 24-hour time frame.

___

Associated Press journalists 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 contributed.

Related: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP (New)

A demonstrator waves Iranian and Palestinian flags during an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin...

Associated Press

The Latest | Israel says 99% of drones and missiles launched by Iran were intercepted

Israel is hailing the success of its defenses after an attack by Iran involving hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

1 month ago

Former President Trump shown,, trump hush money trial started Monday...

Associated Press

Trump says Arizona’s abortion ban goes too far while defending the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Former President Trump said Arizona's abortion ban goes too far, but defended the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

1 month ago

Beverly Smith picks produce while grocery shopping at Ream's....

Associated Press

What stores are open on Easter Sunday 2024? See Walmart, Target, Costco hours

Need to make a last-minute trip to the store for more Easter eggs and candy? Make sure you know what stores are open and closed on Easter.

2 months ago

FILE - Joana Vicente attends the 2024 Sundance Film Festival's Opening Night Gala on Jan. 18, 2024,...

Lindsey Bahr AP Film Writer

Joana Vicente steps down as Sundance Institute CEO

Joana Vicente has been announced to be stepping down as the CEO of the Sundance Institute after taking the position two and a half years ago.

2 months ago

The price of chocolate is rising just in time for Easter due to crop damages in West Africa. (Stock...

Damian J. Troise

Rich cocoa prices hitting shoppers with bitter chocolate costs as Easter approaches

Cocoa prices are rising because the chocolate's plant crops have been damaged due to high heat temperatures in West Africa.

2 months ago

St. Patrick's Day is today! To celebrate, learn a little bit about the history, why American's cele...

Deepti Hajela

From 4-leaf clovers to some unexpected history, all you need to know about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's day is today. To celebrate, read a little about the holiday's history, why American's celebrate it, and who St. Patrick was.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Maine mass shooter’s family reached out to sheriff 5 months before rampage, sheriff’s office says