May 21, 2024


The questions on how Robert Card was capable of personal weapons underscore the problem in seizing weapons from doubtlessly harmful individuals with psychological sickness.

Lucy Allard, 5, and her brother Zeke Allard, 8, plant crosses in honor of the victims of this week’s mass taking pictures in Lewiston, Maine, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. The residents of Lewiston are embarking on a path to therapeutic after a person suspected of killing a number of individuals earlier this week was discovered useless. AP Photograph/Matt Rourke

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — A historical past of psychological sickness. An array of weapons. Quite a few run-ins with police. However he was nonetheless capable of personal weapons and commit the deadliest mass taking pictures in Maine’s historical past.

One week later, many in Lewiston and nationwide are asking: Why did he have weapons in any respect?

Robert Card was recognized by authorities as an individual of curiosity about 4 hours after he shot and killed 18 individuals and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and bar in Maine’s second-largest metropolis. However Card, who was discovered useless two days after his rampage, had been well-known to legislation enforcement for months.

The questions on how Card was capable of personal weapons underscore the problem in seizing weapons from doubtlessly harmful individuals with psychological sickness — particularly when quite a few states and jurisdictions are concerned, as was the case with Card.

The police businesses that responded to the mass taking pictures confronted strain to account for the way Card may have owned weapons after spending time in a psychiatric facility in New York. Card reportedly blamed Military Reserve officers for his hospitalization, in accordance with a letter an unidentified member of the unit wrote to a Maine sheriff’s deputy.

The letter was included within the deputy’s Sept. 15 report about efforts to contact Card. It’s unclear when it was despatched, however the author describes getting a name from a buddy of Card’s who was involved Card was “going to snap and commit a mass taking pictures.”

Card threatened to shoot up the Military reserve drill middle in Saco, Maine, and different locations, and that he was going to get “them.”

“Because the commander and I are those who had him dedicated we’re the ‘them,’” wrote the unidentified letter author. “He additionally stated I used to be the explanation he can’t purchase weapons anymore due to the dedication.”

Authorities on the state and federal stage haven’t stated that Card’s historical past of psychological sickness ought to have triggered legal guidelines that stored him from proudly owning weapons. There was nothing on Card’s file earlier than the taking pictures that will have stored him from passing a federal background examine to purchase a gun, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated in an announcement.

How involuntary commitments are reported to federal authorities differs by state, stated Mark Collins, federal coverage director on the gun-violence prevention group Brady.

Usually, although, not everybody who will get psychological well being remedy at a facility is taken into account involuntarily dedicated. That’s a dedication legally made by a court docket or a board, which then communicates it to a different state physique tasked with sending that data to the federal background-check system maintained by the FBI.

Every state has an company that ought to report it, but it surely’s not legally required in all places, he stated. Maine, for instance, does require the State Bureau of Identification to report commitments to the FBI’s Nationwide Immediate Legal Background Verify System.

“That is the clearest reduce case I’ve seen the place an extreme-risk safety order may have saved all these lives,” Collins stated, referring to measures usually known as “red-flag” legal guidelines, which Maine doesn’t have. “This man did every thing in need of taking out a front-page advert within the newspaper saying he was going to commit an atrocity.”

Concern about Card’s conduct accelerated after an altercation he had with fellow Military Reserve members this summer season. Card and different members of the Military Reserve’s third Battalion, 304th Infantry Unit had been in New York for coaching on July 15 when he accused a number of of them of calling him a pedophile, shoved one in every of them and locked himself in his motel room. The following morning, he advised one other soldier that he needed individuals to cease speaking about him.

“I advised him nobody was speaking about him and everybody right here was his buddy. Card advised me to go away him alone and tried to slam the door in my face,” the soldier later advised Maine authorities, in accordance with paperwork launched by the sheriff’s workplace.

New York State Police responded and introduced Card to a hospital on the U.S. Navy Academy in West Level for an analysis. Card spent 14 days on the 4 Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, New York, which is a couple of miles (kilometers) from West Level.

Jonathan Crisp, a military lawyer for twenty years earlier than beginning a prison protection apply, stated when troopers are dedicated involuntarily to psychological well being services by others within the chain of command, it’s a “reportable” occasion below Military laws that triggers a requirement to alert others. A provost marshal enters the incident right into a navy database that places the FBI on discover so it may well enter the title right into a background listing 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 stated. “This could have been reported.”

Card returned dwelling on Aug. 3, in accordance with the Military. At the moment, the Military directed that whereas on responsibility, he shouldn’t be allowed to have a weapon, deal with ammunition or take part in live-fire exercise. It additionally declared him to be non-deployable.

Whereas a lot continues to be unknown surrounding the character of Card’s psychological well being remedy, navy consultants say that even when Card’s commanders decided he shouldn’t be round weapons after being dedicated, they might have had solely a handful of choices to implement, corresponding to prohibiting him from dealing with weapons whereas on responsibility or trying to sever him from the Military Reserves. There’s little they’ll do when the citizen-soldiers are away from their unit and again in civilian life.

A number of weeks after his launch from the hospital, on Sept. 15, a deputy was despatched to go to Card’s dwelling in Bowdoin, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Lewiston, for a wellness examine. Card’s unit requested it after a soldier stated he was afraid Card was “going to snap and commit a mass taking pictures” as a result of he was listening to voices once more, in accordance with paperwork launched by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Workplace. The deputy went to Card’s trailer however couldn’t discover him.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry stated Wednesday deputies didn’t have authorized authority to press the case if Card didn’t wish to open the door.

On Oct. 18, the sheriff’s workplace canceled a statewide alert in search of assist finding Card.

One week later, shortly earlier than 7 p.m. on Oct. 25, authorities started receiving 911 calls a couple of gunman on the Simply-In-Time Recreation bowling alley in Lewiston. 4 native cops who had been in plain garments at a close-by gun vary arrived on the taking pictures scene a minute and a half after the primary 911 name, however the gunman had already left. Different Lewiston officers arrived on the scene inside 4 minutes of the primary name.

Twelve minutes after the primary 911 name and because the first state troopers started arriving on the bowling alley, authorities started getting calls a couple of gunman at Schemengees Bar and Grille about 4 miles (6.4 km) away. Officers arrived on the bar 5 minutes later, however once more, the attacker had already left.

Seven individuals had been killed on the bowling, eight had been killed on the bar and three others died on the hospital, authorities stated.

Condon reported from New York, Whitehurst from Washington, D.C., and Kruesi from Nashville. Related Press writers David Sharp, Jake Bleiberg, Robert F. Bukaty, David R. Martin and Matt Rourke in Lewiston, Maine, contributed to this report together with Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, and Michael Casey in Boston.