A Maine sheriff says he sent an alert to all law enforcement agencies in the state last month after learning that an Army reservist had made threats against his base, a notification that came weeks before reservist kills 18 people in deadliest mass shooting in the United States. year.
Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said he sent out the alert in September in an effort to find the reservist, Robert R. Card II, 40, who allegedly made threats about the Army Reserve Center in Saco , in Maine. He said he sent a deputy to Mr. Card’s home, but the deputy did not find him there, prompting the sheriff to send the notice.
The revelation is the strongest sign yet that law enforcement was aware that Mr. Card posed a potential danger before he went on the rampage at a Lewiston bowling alley and bar Wednesday night.
“The guys, from what I know, did their due diligence and tried to locate Mr. Card, but they were unsuccessful,” Sheriff Merry said in an interview Saturday evening.
The Maine Department of Public Safety, which led a two-day manhunt for Mr. Card before he was found dead in a trailer at a recycling plant Friday night, did not respond to requests for comments. The Associated Press first reported on sheriff’s alert.
Sheriff Merry declined to comment in detail on the reported threats, and it was unclear whether other departments that received the sheriff’s alert attempted to locate Mr. Card. Contacted Saturday, two Maine law enforcement officials said they did not recall receiving the alert, although they said they had received numerous such notifications.
The Army’s public affairs office at the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday evening. Mr. Card enlisted in the Reserves in 2002 and trained as a petroleum supply specialist, whose job was to ship and store fuel; he did not serve in any combat deployment.
Earlier Saturday, the Department of Public Safety commissioner said Mr. Card was paranoid and may have been hearing voices. The commissioner, Michael J. Sauschuck, suggested that Mr. Card had most likely already been to the bowling alley and bar and may have carried out the attack in part because he mistakenly believed that “the people were talking about him.
During a recent visit to a National Guard training center outside Peekskill, N.Y., Mr. Card got into an altercation with officials and was later evaluated at a health care facility mentally, according to a senior law enforcement official. Mr. Sauschuck said he had no information to suggest that Mr. Card had ever been forcibly committed for mental health treatment.
Mr. Card had purchased several firearms legally, including days before the attack, according to Jim Ferguson, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field division in Boston.
After the shooting, Mr. Card fled toward the Androscoggin River, police said, abandoning his car about a 15-minute drive from the bar he had just attacked. A two-day manhunt followed, with the state issuing a stay-at-home order affecting thousands of residents.
Meanwhile, police twice searched a recycling plant where Mr Card had previously worked, close to where he abandoned his car. But they didn’t realize that a dirt lot across the street, housing dozens of trailers, was part of the property. When they searched the trailers, they found him inside one, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Shaila Dewan, John Ismay, Serge F. Kovaleski And Amélie Nierenberg reports contributed. Jack Begg contributed to the research.