The systemic failures that led to Robert R. Card Jr.’s mass murder spree on Oct. 25 in Lewiston demand multiple investigations at multiple levels of government.
Based on public records reported by the Maine Wire and other media outlets, it appears clear that Maine law enforcement knew for months that Card was a ticking time bomb.
We’re not just talking about a random tip to an FBI hotline; we’re talking about up to a dozen Maine law enforcement officers at multiple agencies who had detailed knowledge of Card’s deteriorating mental health and the specific threats he had made, including against his Army Reserve center in Saco. Multiple cops knew Card was unstable, dangerous, and taking efforts to hide from police.
Yet they made only minimal efforts to ensure that he had no access to firearms. Namely, two visits to his Bowdoin home that failed to establish contact and a few phone calls with his brother. Law enforcement’s handling of the matter is especially concerning considering Maine’s “Yellow Flag” law was crafted to ensure that precisely this situation would never result in such a deadly tragedy.
Whether it’s the Maine State Police, the Maine Attorney General, the Department of Justice, or the U.S. Army, here are the following questions that must be answered in order to restore Mainers’ faith in our institutions and provide a factual basis for any future policy reforms:
1.) After Card was involuntarily committed at Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, N.Y., what communication was made between that facility, the U.S. Army, and Maine law enforcement?
2.) Why did the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) make only two attempts to contact Card from May to Oct. 25? On the occasion when SCSO assessed that Card was hiding in the trailer at his property, why wasn’t a greater effort made to make contact? Why did they rely on Card’s brother to ensure he did not have access to firearms?
3.) Did members of Card’s Army Reserve unit, many of whom are local Maine cops, protect him from closer scrutiny out of loyalty to their fellow soldier?
4.) Why was Maine’s “Yellow Flag” law not used following the disclosure from Card’s family that he was mentally unstable and had access to firearms?
5.) Why was Maine’s “Yellow Flag” law not used after he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward for making violent threats against an Army Base? Did SCSO or other law enforcement agencies ever discuss invoking the Yellow Flag law for Card?
6.) Did the U.S. Army ever consider dishonorably discharging Card for making violent threats against the Army Reserve center and assaulting a fellow soldier?
7.) Why was Maine’s Yellow Flag law not used after soldiers in his Army Reserve unit, many of whom are law enforcement officers, determined that he should not have access to firearms as part of his Army service?
8.) Why are local cops and sheriff’s deputies complaining about a breakdown in communication from the Maine State Police?
9.) When was a K9 unit first deployed to search the scene around Lisbon?
10.) Who is ultimately responsible for the failures of the search and investigation efforts and when will they be resigning?