Maine National Guard Thought Lewiston Mass Shooter Would Snap: Report

Police tried to contact Robert Card last month, but were unsuccessful.
A man photographs a makeshift memorial at Veteran's Memorial Park on Oct. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine. The community is working to heal after a mass shooter killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar on Oct. 25.
A man photographs a makeshift memorial at Veteran's Memorial Park on Oct. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine. The community is working to heal after a mass shooter killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar on Oct. 25.
AP Photo/Matt York

Six weeks before Robert Card killed 18 people in Maine, the Maine National Guard shared concerns with local law enforcement that he was going to “snap and commit a mass shooting,” CNN reported Monday.

On Sept. 16, a sergeant from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office tried without success to contact Card, a U.S. Army reservist who went on to kill 18 people at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston, Maine, last week.

According to CNN, the Maine National Guard had told the Sagadahoc County sergeant that “when [he] answers the door at his trailer, in the past he usually does so with a handgun in hand out of view from the person outside.” The sergeant later learned that a guardsman thought Card might commit a mass shooting.

According to a state law enforcement bulletin obtained by NBC News, Card was admitted to a mental health facility this summer.

CNN reports that Card and the other soldiers were at a convenience store near West Point, New York, in July when Card accused three of them of calling him a pedophile and then shoved one of the soldiers. After the altercation, a concerned guardsman took Card to a base hospital, which led to his two-week mental hospital stay.

After Card was released from the mental hospital, he punched another soldier while they were driving home from a casino, according to CNN. The soldier had told Card that he was going to get in trouble if he continued to say he was going to shoot up places and people, including the National Guard base in Saco, Maine.

Joel Merry, the Sagadahoc County sheriff, told The Associated Press that the U.S. Army Reserve had warned his department about Card’s threats to shoot up the base. Merry said he sent an alert to law enforcement agencies across Maine, according to The New York Times.

Merry did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said during a news conference on Thursday that the state’s yellow flag law should have “separated” the shooter from his guns.

“It certainly seems that on the basis of the facts that we have that the yellow flag law should have been triggered if in fact the suspect was hospitalized for two weeks for mental illness,” Collins said. “That should have triggered the yellow flag law, and he should have been separated from his weapons.”

Maine’s yellow flag law allows police to request that a judge order someone to give up their guns or prohibit them from buying any new ones. On top of that, the person must go through a medical assessment before the petition goes to a judge.

Card was on the run for 48 hours after he killed 18 people, triggering a widespread shelter-in-place order. He was found dead on Friday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound near the Androscoggin River in Lisbon Falls, about 10 miles from where the shooting took place.

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