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Report: Sheriff Had Cause to Take Maine Mass Shooter's Guns

Friday, 15 March 2024 06:25 PM EDT

A sheriff's office investigating a mass shooting in Maine had cause to take the killer into protective custody beforehand and to take away his guns, according to a report issued by an independent commission Friday.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey assembled the commission to review both the events leading up to Oct. 25, when Army reservist Robert Card killed 18 people in a bowling alley and a bar, and the response to the tragedy.

Led by a former chief justice of Maine's highest court, the commission also included a former U.S. attorney and the former chief forensic psychologist for the state. It held seven sessions starting in November, hearing from law enforcement, survivors, victims' family members, and members of the U.S. Army Reserve as it explored whether anything could have been done to prevent the tragedy and what changes should be made going forward.

Card, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot after a two-day search, was well known to law enforcement, and his family and fellow service members had raised flags about his behavior, deteriorating mental health, and potential for violence before the shootings.

In May, relatives warned police that Card had grown paranoid, and they expressed concern about his access to guns. In July, Card was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit for two weeks after shoving a fellow reservist and locking himself in a motel room. In August, the Army barred him from handling weapons while on duty and declared him nondeployable. And in September, a fellow reservist texted an Army supervisor about his growing concerns about Card, saying, "I believe he's going to snap and do a mass shooting."

But law enforcement officials told commission members that Maine's yellow flag law makes it difficult to remove guns from potentially dangerous people.

"I couldn't get him to the door. I can't make him open the door," said Sgt. Aaron Skolfield, who visited Card's home for a welfare check in September. "If I had kicked in the door, that would've been a violation of the law."

In later testimony, those involved in the search for Card in the shooting's aftermath acknowledged potential missed opportunities to find him and end the search that locked down the community and terrified residents. Some of the most emotional testimony came from family members who tearfully described scenes of blood, chaos, and panic followed by unfathomable loss.

Rachael Sloat, who was engaged to be married to shooting victim Peton Berwer Ross, told the committee that her heart breaks every time their 2-year-old daughter asks for her daddy.

"Where are you?" she asked. "Every politician, every member of law enforcement, every registered voter in the country: I want you to hear those words. 'Where are you?' Because, my fellow Americans, where are you? We failed my little girl."

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


US
A sheriff's office investigating a mass shooting in Maine had cause to take the killer into protective custody beforehand and to take away his guns, according to a report issued by an independent commission Friday.
maine, mass shooting, lewiston, report
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2024-25-15
Friday, 15 March 2024 06:25 PM
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