December 4, 2023

Nationwide Information

“He slipped by way of the cracks,” mentioned Jody Madeira, an Indiana College legislation professor who has studied gun legal guidelines. “There have been warning indicators.”

Regulation enforcement proceed a manhunt within the aftermath of a mass capturing, in Durham, Maine, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023..Authorities are scouring a whole bunch of acres of family-owned property, sending dive groups to the underside of a river and scrutinizing a potential suicide notice within the second day of their intensive seek for an Military reservist accused of fatally capturing a number of individuals in Maine.(AP Photograph/Matt Rourke) AP

Police throughout Maine have been alerted simply final month to “veiled threats” by the U.S. Military reservist who would go on to hold out the worst mass capturing within the state’s historical past, one in every of a string of missed purple flags that preceded the bloodbath.

Two native legislation enforcement chiefs informed The Related Press {that a} statewide consciousness alert was despatched in mid-September to be looking out for Robert Card after the firearms teacher made threats towards his base and fellow troopers. However after stepped-up patrols of the bottom and a go to to Card’s residence — neither of which turned up any signal of him — they moved on.

“We added additional patrols, we did that for about two weeks. … The man by no means confirmed up,” mentioned Jack Clements, the police chief in Saco, residence to the U.S. Military Reserve base the place Card educated.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, whose jurisdiction contains Card’s residence in Bowdoin, mentioned the Military Reserve tipped his division in September to the reservist’s threats, and the sheriff despatched the notice alert to each legislation enforcement company within the state after his deputy got here again empty-handed from a welfare examine to Card’s residence.

“We couldn’t find him,” Merry mentioned, including that he couldn’t recall if there was any follow-up as a result of “I don’t have any studies in entrance of me.”

Navy officers declined to remark additional about Card, particularly whether or not the threats relayed to the sheriff in September have been new or the identical ones Card had made throughout an Military reserve coaching train close to West Level, New York, in July. That’s when police say Card was dedicated to a psychological well being facility for 2 weeks after appearing erratically and “listening to voices and threats to shoot up” a army base.

Authorities say the 40-year-old Card opened fireplace with a high-powered rifle on a bowling alley after which a bar in Lewiston Wednesday night time, killing 18 individuals and wounding 13 extra. After an intensive two-day search that put the state on edge, Card was discovered lifeless Friday from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Regardless of the sooner threats, the FBI mentioned Saturday Card had not been on its radar, telling AP it “didn’t have nor did it obtain any suggestions or data regarding Robert Card.” The bureau added that its immediate background examine system “was not supplied with or in possession of any data that will have prohibited Card from a lawful firearm buy.”

Card’s case stands as a obvious instance of missed purple flags, with many unanswered questions on what the army, police, psychological well being professionals and kinfolk may have completed to forestall the bloodbath.

Whereas Maine doesn’t have a purple flag legislation, it does have a extra restricted “ yellow-flag ” legislation that will nonetheless enable police to petition a decide to take an individual’s firearms away if a medical practitioner deems that individual to be a risk.

For his half, Saco police Chief Clements defended his division’s response to the alert about Card, which he described as a “generic factor that got here out saying, hey, , we’ve had some report that this man’s made some veiled threats.”

Clements famous that his division will get many such alerts and that his officers gave this one its due consideration, maintaining a tally of the bottom for any signal of Card.

“By no means got here in touch with this man, by no means obtained any telephone calls from the reserve middle saying, ‘Hey, we received any individual who was inflicting an issue,’” he mentioned. “We by no means received something.”

One other legislation enforcement company that got here in touch with Card was the New York State Police, which on July 16 was referred to as in West Level by commanders of the Military Reserve’s third Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment with issues about Card’s erratic conduct and “threats to different members of his army unit” throughout a coaching train, in keeping with a State Police doc obtained by AP. State Police troopers took Card, a sergeant 1st class, to the Keller Military Group Hospital at West Level for what can be two weeks of psychological well being analysis.

What New York State Police did about Card’s threats is unclear. The company declined to remark to the AP on the case and didn’t reply to a request for studies or potential body-camera footage of their interactions with Card.

“That is an energetic investigation, and the New York State Police doesn’t touch upon energetic investigations, nor investigations through which we aren’t the lead company,” it mentioned in a press release Friday earlier than Card was discovered lifeless. A state police spokesman refused to remark Saturday.

Jonathan Crisp, a military lawyer for twenty years earlier than beginning a legal protection apply, mentioned when troopers are dedicated involuntarily to psychological well being amenities by others within the chain of command, it’s a “reportable” occasion beneath Military rules that triggers a requirement to alert others. A provost marshal enters the incident right into a army database that places the FBI on discover so it will probably enter the title right into a background checklist of individuals prevented from shopping for weapons.

“In the event that they took him and he didn’t wish to go and he refused to be admitted, it’s a slam dunk,” Crisp mentioned. “This could have been reported.”

However Maine Division of Public Security Commissioner Michael Sauschuck mentioned in a information convention Saturday that whereas Card had a historical past of psychological sickness, there was no proof that he had ever been involuntarily dedicated.

“Simply because there seems to be a psychological well being nexus to this state of affairs, the overwhelming majority of individuals with psychological well being analysis won’t ever harm anyone,” Sauschuck mentioned.

Jody Madeira, an Indiana College legislation professor who has studied gun legal guidelines, mentioned police in a single state can alert counterparts in one other state that somebody is a hazard, and the army can do the identical with native police.

She mentioned somebody dropped the ball as a result of Card’s threats and medical analysis ought to have triggered a yellow flag seizure of his weapons when he returned residence.

“He slipped by way of the cracks,” Madeira mentioned. “There have been warning indicators.”


Condon and Mustian reported from New York. AP reporter Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, and information researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed.


Contact AP’s world investigative crew at [email protected].