Army Watchdog Should Investigate Handling of Soldier Who Killed 18 in Mass Shooting, Maine Senators Say

November 6, 2023
Soldiers from the Lewiston Recruiting Station tie ribbons to poles

Maine’s two senators are requesting the Army’s inspector general investigate the deadly shooting there by a member of the Army Reserve two weeks ago that killed 18 people.

The lawmakers, Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an Independent, want to know whether the service followed policy and whether any reforms are necessary after the massacre in Lewiston, the latest mass shooting to grab the national spotlight.

The killer, Robert Card, was a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve. He was admitted to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, New York, on July 15 after his erratic behavior sparked concerns in his unit during a training event. Before that, his family told authorities on several occasions going back to January about his deteriorating mental health.

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“Despite these warning signs, and others, there was no attempt to trigger the crisis intervention laws in New York (where Mr. Card was training and hospitalized) or Maine (where Mr. Card resided),” Collins and King wrote in a joint letter shared Monday on X.

Two days after he was at the West Point hospital, Card was transferred to Four Winds, a civilian mental health hospital not far from the base, according to a service spokesperson. There, he was no longer under the Army’s care.

Card returned to his home in Maine on Aug. 3. He did not report to his part-time military duties in September or October, citing conflicts with his civilian work.

It’s unclear why the service moved him to a civilian facility so quickly, or how closely his unit was tracking his civilian care. His commanders did alert authorities, requesting police conduct a health and welfare check on him on Sept. 15, but he was not home either then or the following day, according to authorities.

Card allegedly made direct threats to attack his unit, 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, in Saco, Maine, where 70 soldiers are assigned. The unit supports training at West Point.

Army Reserve facilities were shut down within a 100-mile radius of the area of the shootings during the manhunt for Card. “We are committed to the safety of our Army Reserve soldiers, civilians, and families,” a reserve spokesperson said at the time.

Months before the shooting, the Army directed that Card should not have a weapon or handle any ammunition while on military duty. The service also declared him to be non-deployable. However, Card had numerous personally owned firearms that the Army had no control over.

Card was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound two days after the shootings. A postmortem examination concluded that he likely died eight to 12 hours before his body was found, according to Maine’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner, meaning he was on the run for much of the two-day manhunt.

Steve Beynon can be reached at Follow him on X @StevenBeynon.

Related: Months Before Maine Mass Shooting, Gunman Was Prohibited from Handling Military Weapons by Army Reserve

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