Multiple law enforcement agencies had received warnings about threats from the man who would go on to commit a mass shooting in Maine, but did little about it, new reports indicate.
According to Politico, Chief Jack Clements of the Saco Police Department, located near the sight of the shooting in Lewiston, said that his department had received a “generic thing that came out saying, hey, you know, we’ve had some report that this guy’s made some veiled threats.”
But Clements claimed that his department receives multiple warnings about a wide variety of possible suspects, and thus treated the warning about Robert Card with little severity.
“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,’” Clements continued. “We never got anything.”
On July 16th, the New York State Police were called by commanders of the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment at West Point, citing Card’s “threats to other members of his military unit” while undergoing a training exercise. According to the official State Police reporter, troopers took then Sergeant 1st Class Card to West Point’s Keller Army Community Hospital for a two-week mental health evaluation. It is unknown what actions, if any, the State Police took following this two-week period.
“This is an active investigation, and the New York State Police does not comment on active investigations, nor investigations in which we are not the lead agency,” said the State Police in a statement on Friday, just before Card was found dead.
But Jonathan Crisp, a former army lawyer who now has his own criminal defense practice, said that the incident should have been reported under Army regulations, as any soldier being committed to a mental health facility would automatically trigger a requirement to alert others in the chain of command, at which point a provost marshal would log the incident in a military database. Following that, the FBI would be put on notice so that the soldier’s name can be entered into a background list of people who are now prohibited from buying weapons.
“If they took him and he didn’t want to go and he refused to be admitted, it’s a slam dunk,” Crisp noted. “This should have been reported.”
Despite these reports, Maine’s Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck defended the lack of awareness of Card’s threats, saying that “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.”
Card carried out his shooting on October 25th, at the Just-In-Time bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. He killed 18 victims and injured 13 others. After a massive manhunt, he was found dead two days later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.