Sagadahoc County, Maine
Maine National Guard asked local police to check on reservist who killed 18 people after a soldier became concerned, he “collapsed and committed a mass shooting,” according to reports shared with CNN.
Officers from the Sagadahoc and Kennebec county sheriff’s offices responded and attempted to contact the man on Sept. 16, less than six weeks before Wednesday’s massacres at a bowling alley and bar, documents show, a source said policewoman.
Information obtained by CNN describes how the Sagadahoc County sergeant called for backup, tried unsuccessfully to speak to the reservist and then received disturbing details from the Maine National Guard and the shooter’s family.
The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office sergeant was told that “when he opened his trailer door, in the past, he usually did so with a handgun in his hand, out of sight of the person at hand.” outside,” according to the source close to the matter. the social control report.
The responding officer later learned in a letter from the National Guard that a fellow Guard officer “feared that (the reservist) might snap and commit a mass shooting,” according to the report filed in health check.
The 40-year-old went on two shooting sprees in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night, killing 18 people at Just-in-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille.
Initial panic was followed by 48 hours of fear and confinement before he was found Friday evening, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot woundabout 10 miles away.
The CNN report raises new questions about the lack of follow-up to ensure the man did not pose a danger despite serious warning signs known to authorities and now being detailed for the first time.
Maine has a “yellow flag” law that can be used to assess an individual for access to weapons. The first step is for law enforcement to take anyone considered dangerous into custody and then have them evaluated by a medical professional. After a diagnosis, a judge can approve a temporary gun removal order, according to the law.
A missing person report from Case 6 appears to have been generated by the Sagadahoc sergeant who attempted to check on the man, the source told CNN, but it is unclear whether any action was taken regarding access from the shooter to the weapons. The source indicated that the case appeared to have been closed on October 1, 24 days before the massacres.
CNN on Thursday began raising questions about what information all law enforcement agencies in the state had about the threats and the shooter’s mental health. But when CNN asked the state’s public safety commissioner, Mike Sauschuck, he responded: “I won’t answer.” »
He continued: “From what I have seen, we will continue to work on this. »
A state police spokesperson said Sunday that the organization was the lead agency for manhunt and homicide investigations but no other aspects, directing CNN to ask questions about it. who was previously known to Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry.
“The Department of Public Safety (DPS) nor the Maine State Police requested a cable on Robert Card prior to October 26. It should also be noted that no bulletins or assistance were requested from the Maine MSP Information and Analysis Center. DPS has no regulatory authority over law enforcement agencies in Maine,” she said, declining to elaborate.
CNN was unable to reach Merry on Sunday. A woman who opened the door to his home said he was “done,” indicating he did not want to talk.
CNN also attempted to solicit comment on this story from the shooter’s family and the Maine National Guard, who were closely involved in September’s attempts to check on the man’s well-being. Neither responded.
Shortly after the man – Robert Card – was identified as a suspect, his mental health issues were also reported.
According to information apparently provided to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office by the Maine National Guard, the man spent 14 days in a psychiatric hospital in July before being released.
The hospital stay was prompted by problems with other troopers in New York State in July.
The National Guard told the Sagadahoc Sheriff’s Office that its reservist began hearing insulting voices in the spring and the situation only got worse.
On July 15, near West Point, he and other soldiers “went to a convenience store to buy beer,” according to reports shared by CNN, citing a letter from the National Guard.
“In the parking lot, (he) accused three of them of calling him a pedophile and told them he would take care of it,” it continues. “One of the soldiers who had been friends with (him) for a long time was there. (He) confronted him, shoved him and told him to stop calling him a pedophile.
The police source told CNN that they calmed their comrade, returned to the motel, where he locked himself in his room and did not respond.
The next day, another guard got his room key and saw him. “(He) told me to leave him alone and tried to slam the door in my face,” he said, adding that the guard took the man to a base hospital where a psychologist determined he needed further treatment, which led to a 14-day psychiatric stay.
After his release, another incident occurred that caused the Maine National Guard to request a health check.
The man and a soldier friend were driving home from a casino when he started talking about people calling him a pedophile, according to the National Guard statement provided to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.
“When (his friend) told him to stop because he was going to get in trouble for talking about shooting places and people, (he) hit him,” the statement said. “According to (the friend), (he) said he had weapons and was going to shoot at the Saco drilling center and other places… (the friend) fears that (he ) breaks and commits a mass shooting. »
The threat to National Guard installations in Saco has led to additional patrols, Saco Police Chief Jack Clements told WMTW Mainebut the troubled guard never showed up.
Happy Sagadahoc County Sheriff told the New York Times he sent an alert to all law enforcement agencies in Maine during the month of September after learning of the threat to the Saco base.
CNN has not been able to independently verify this.
Happy told the Associated Press it was the Army Reserve who warned him of the possible danger.
An Army spokesperson told CNN Card’s unit requested a health and welfare check from the sheriff’s office.
“In September, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office responded to a health and welfare check requested by Sgt. Unit 1st Class Robert Card exercised great caution after the unit became concerned for his safety,” said Lt. Col. Ruth Castro. “The military takes all allegations seriously. Due to an ongoing military investigation, we cannot provide further details. »
Investigators said the shooter already owned the high-powered Ruger SFAR rifle, later used in the killings, after purchasing it and a Beretta 92-F 9mm semi-automatic pistol earlier in July.
When the officers from Sagadahoc and Kennebec were deployed at his home On September 16, they did not make contact with the shooter but quickly became aware of his mental health issues and his weapons, the police source told CNN.
The reservist wasn’t answering the officers’ door, the source said, so officers began calling those who knew him.
The unit commander told an officer that the man no longer had any guard weapons and that arrangements had been made with his brother who had collected his personal firearms.
The commander also allegedly told the officer that he thought it was best to let the man have some time to himself.
The next day, the Sagadahoc officer spoke with the shooter’s brother, who warned him that the man would likely be armed if he opened the door.
“I was then contacted by (the brother), he told me that between him and his father they would work to ensure (the man) did not have access to any firearms. They have a way to secure his weapons,” the source was quoted in a welfare check report.
The responding officer said he told the brother the intention was to ensure his sibling would not hurt themselves or others. He said his department would help facilitate a mental health evaluation if necessary.
It was September 17. Thirty-eight days later, the National Guard reservist walked into a bowling alley and started shooting. A 14-year-old boy playing with his father and participants in a deaf cornhole tournament was among those killed. He then went to a bar and killed other people, including the manager who tried to arrest him.