The Maine Military Reserve and Sheriff’s Department were aware of a reservist’s deteriorating mental health more than five months before he killed 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, according to records released Monday. Just six weeks ago, records show, he had become increasingly paranoid, punched a friend and said he was going to go on a shooting spree.
But there is no indication in the documents that law enforcement officials ever made contact with the reservist, Robert R. Card II, 40, who carried out America’s deadliest mass shooting this year and sparked a two-day manhunt before he was killed. found dead.
The warnings about Mr. Card were far more explicit than Maine officials publicly acknowledged in the days after the Oct. 25 shooting. They came from Mr. Card’s family members – who thought he was hearing voices – and his Army reserve unit in Saco. , Maine, and were investigated by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, where Mr. Card lived.
Mr. Card’s family told a sheriff’s deputy in May that Mr. Card had become angry and paranoid since earlier this year. In particular, he had started to claim – wrongly, according to the family – that people were accusing him of being a pedophile.
When the deputy, Chad Carleton, contacted Mr. Card’s base in Saco, he learned that people there were already “very concerned” about Mr. Card’s mental health, according to a report prepared by the deputy.
Two months later, in July, Mr. Card was treated at a New York psychiatric hospital for two weeks, according to a later report, after an incident at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He had accused “several other soldiers” of calling him a pedophile, shoved one and made veiled threats that he would “take care of” things, according to the report.
He made much more explicit threats in mid-September, telling a friend he had guns and was “going to shoot up the Saco drill center and elsewhere,” according to a sheriff’s office report dating from that month.
In response to this episode, the Army Reserve contacted the sheriff’s office, which assigned a sergeant, Aaron Skolfield, to check on Mr. Card at his home in Bowdoin, Maine.
Sergeant Skolfield went to Mr Card’s home on September 16 and attempted to make contact with him, but no one came to the door, although the sergeant heard someone he thought was M .Card move inside.
The sergeant said in his report that shortly afterward he spoke with Mr. Card’s commanding officer, Captain Jeremy Reamer, who told him he thought it was best for Mr. Card “to have a little time for him. Captain Reamer also said the Reserves were working to get Mr. Card retired and receiving mental health care. He declined to comment Monday.
The Army said in a statement that its reserve unit contacted the sheriff’s office about Mr. Card “out of an abundance of caution after the unit became concerned for his safety.”
Sergeant Skolfield said he also contacted Mr Card’s brother, Ryan Card, who told him he and his father would try to take his brother’s guns away. The sergeant said he urged Ryan Card to contact the sheriff’s department if he felt his brother needed an “evaluation.” Ryan Card did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said in a statement that he believed his deputies acted appropriately, but he added that his department would evaluate its health screening procedures.
Sergeant Skolfield declined to comment this weekend when contacted by a reporter by phone.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Janet Mills declined to answer questions about past law enforcement interactions with Mr. Card. State Public Safety Commissioner Michael J. Sauschuck only mentioned a 2007 drunken driving incident when asked Saturday about his past contact with law enforcement. ‘order.
Mr. Card’s previous run-ins with reservists and warnings to the sheriff’s department are the latest to raise questions about whether more could have been done to prevent the Maine shooting or stop Mr. Card from buying guns .
The reports do not say whether Mr. Card was committed to the hospital in July against his will, but if he had been, he may have been prohibited from possessing firearms. One report describes Mr. Card’s colleagues in the Reserves hearing him complain that unit commanders had him interned and saying that was “the reason he can no longer buy money.” weapons”.
Federal officials said Mr. Card had legally purchased guns just days before the shooting. The FBI has said there is nothing stopping it from legally purchasing guns.
Despite Mr. Card’s behavior, the Sheriff’s Office I haven’t tried to use Maine’s “yellow flag” law, which allows police to take away people’s guns after having them evaluated by a doctor and with the approval of a judge.
Mr. Card began his rampage at a bowling alley last Wednesday night, where he killed seven people. He then went to a bar and opened fire again, shooting people who were playing pool and several deaf friends who were playing cornhole. Eight people died at the bar and three others died in hospital.
Thirteen other people were injured between the two scenes. Mr Card fled and was found dead two days later, after shooting himself in a trailer at a recycling plant where he worked.
In May, Mr. Carleton, a sheriff’s deputy, met with Mr. Card’s ex-wife and 18-year-old son at a high school where they had expressed their concerns to a police officer assigned to the school. Mr Card’s son said his father had recently become very angry with him and accused him of talking behind his back.
The son and his mother told the MP they were concerned about Mr Card’s deteriorating mental health and growing paranoia. Mr. Card’s ex-wife told the deputy that he had recently collected 10 to 15 handguns and rifles from his brother’s home and brought them back to his own home.
That night, Mr. Card’s ex-wife visited him with her sister, Nicole, and later reported that he had opened the door with a gun and complained that there had people outside his house surrounding him. But she told the MP the next day that Mr Card had also agreed to see a doctor because of his paranoia and hearing voices. It is not known whether he did so.
Mr. Carleton wrote that Mr. Card’s brother said his paranoia began around the time Mr. Card received hearing aids earlier this year. Mr. Card’s sister-in-law told The New York Times last week that he got them because his hearing had deteriorated after two decades on the reservation.
When the Sheriff’s Department was contacted by the Reserve in September, Sergeant Skolfield wrote that Mr. Card’s brother assured him that he would work with their father to ensure that Mr. Card would not have access to firearms.
“They have a way to secure his weapons,” the sergeant wrote in the last line of his report.
The report was provided by Maria Cramer, Shaila Dewan, John Ismay, Amélie Nierenberg And Dave Phillips. Kirsten Noyes And Jack Begg contributed to the research.