Red flags: Police agencies across the state of Maine were alerted about Robert Card weeks before the mass shooting

LEWISTON, ME - In the aftermath of one of the nation's deadliest mass shootings, Fox News has reported that authorities within the Lewiston Police Department (LPD) were warned about Robert Card weeks before the massacre. 

Since mid-September, police across the state of Maine were reportedly alerted to the "veiled threats" made by Card, a U.S. Army reservist. 

Two law enforcement officials told the Associated Press (AP) that a "statewide awareness alert" was sent to be on the looking for Card after the firearms instructor made threats against his base and fellow soldiers.

After those alerts, the base stepped up its patrols and paid a visit to Card's home. However, when the could not find him, they dropped their investigation. Saco Police Chief Jack Clements said, "We added extra patrols, we did that for about two weeks. The guy never showed up."

He added, "Never came in contact with this guy, never received any phone calls from the reserve center saying, 'Hey, we got somebody who was causing a problem.' We never got anything."

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, whose jurisdiction includes Card's residence in Bowdoin, said that the Army Reserve alerted his department back in September. Merry said that he sent the "awareness alert" to every law enforcement agency in the state after his deputy came back with no additional information or Card from a welfare check done at his home.

He said, "We couldn't locate him. I don't have any reports in front of me." At the time, he couldn't recall if there was any follow-up after the welfare check.

Despite the threats that Card made previously, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told AP that Card had not been on their radar. The FBI said it "did not have nor did it receive any tips or information concerning Robert Card." 

The FBI added that its instant background check system was "not provided with" or "in possession of any information" that would have "prohibited Card from a lawful firearm purchase."

Maine does not have a "red flag law." It does, however, have a limited "yellow flag law" that still allows police to petition a judge to take a person's firearms away if a medical practitioner deems that person to be a threat. 

Maine was not the only state where law enforcement came in contact with Card. Back in July, the New York State Police were called in West Point by commanders of the Army Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment with concerns about Card's "erratic behavior."

Documents obtained by AP state that troopers took Card, a Sergeant First Class, to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for what would be two weeks of mental health evaluations. 

It is not clear what the New York State Police did about Card's erratic behavior or threats to other military members on the base. The day before Card was found dead, the New York State Police said in a statement, "This is an active investigation and the New York State Police does not comment on active investigations in which we are not the lead agency."

Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck said that while Card had a history of mental illness, there was no evidence that he had ever been involuntarily committed.

He said, "Just because there appears to be a mental health nexus to this scenario, the vast majority of people with mental health diagnosis will never hurt anybody."

Jody Madeira, an Indiana University law professor said that police in one state can alert counterparts in another state that someone is a danger and that the military can do the same with local police.

She said that someone "dropped the ball" because Card's threats and medical evaluation should have triggered a yellow flag seizure of his guns when he returned home. She added, "He slipped through the cracks. There were warning signs."

For corrections or revisions, click here.
The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
Sign in to comment


Powered by StructureCMS™ Comments

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024 Law Enforcement Today, Privacy Policy