U.S. Senators from Maine Susan Collins and Angus King sent a letter Thursday to the Inspector General of the U.S. Army calling for a comprehensive review of the facts and events leading up to the Oct. 25 Lewiston mass shooting.
The shooter, Robert R. Card, Jr., was a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army Reserves with a unit stationed in Saco, Maine.
“As we continue to grieve the needless loss of life that day, we must work to fully understand what happened–and what could have been done differently that might have prevented this tragedy–on the local, state, and federal levels,” the Maine Senators wrote in their letter.
A complaint regarding Card sent to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) by the Army Reserves detailed the deterioration of Card’s mental health, which resulted in him spending two weeks at a psychiatric hospital in July.
According to the SCSO report, the Army was aware of Card hearing voices, assaulting his fellow soldiers, and making threats about “shooting up places and people” — including the drill center in Saco.
The Army Reserve complaint included a text message from a soldier in Card’s unit, who was assaulted by the shooter, which expressed his concern that Card “is going to snap and commit a mass shooting.”
The Army issued a directive barring Card from having weapons, handling ammunition or participating in live-fire activity while on duty more than two months before he went on his murderous rampage in Lewiston.
“Despite these warning signs, and others, there was no apparent attempt to trigger the crisis intervention laws in New York (where Mr. Card was training and hospitalized) or Maine (where Mr. Card resided),” the Senators wrote.
The SCSO documents also reveal that at least four members of Card’s unit are also current law enforcement officers.
Collins and King asked Army Inspector General Donna W. Martin to answer, “at a minimum,” the following questions:
- What concerns were raised by (or to) Army personnel regarding Mr. Card, including with regard to his mental health? When were those concerns raised, and what actions were taken in response?
- Were all existing Army regulations, policies, and procedures followed with regard to Mr. Card?
- Under what circumstances does the Army report its personnel to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)?
- Under what circumstances would the Army seek to invoke a state’s crisis intervention laws to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of a soldier who is a danger to themselves or others? Were any attempts to invoke such laws made with regard to Mr. Card?
- Is there anything that Army personnel should (or could) have done consistent with existing law to prevent the events of October 25, 2023?
- Are there any existing laws, regulations, policies, or procedures that prevented the Army from alerting or communication with any judicial, law enforcement, healthcare, or other entities that could have taken action to prevent the mass shooting on October 25, 2023?
- What reforms or actions, if any, is the Army undertaking in response to the events of October 25, 2023? What actions does your Office believe the Army should take?
“Nothing we can do will bring back the lives lost in this tragedy, but we can work together to help prevent future shootings,” the Senators wrote.
In a recent interview on WGAN, Maine State Police Col. William Ross said that “you could have a history in another state, or incidents in another state, and when you come into Maine it kind of resets,” regarding why Maine law enforcement may have not pursued a weapons restriction order for Card.
Col. Ross also said that he did not know why the SCSO cancelled their “file six” missing persons report on Card after unsuccessfully attempting to conduct a welfare check on him in mid-September.
“I think that this individual needed to be brought in and evaluated,” Ross said, adding that there is a lack of a “clearinghouse” where information regarding these types of cases can be collected and shared.
Last week Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced that she will be forming a commission of independent experts to examine the facts and events that led up to Lewiston shooting, including “what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.”