Schools reopen in Lewiston after mass shootings as investigation reveals details about gunman

Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 7:41 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEWISTON, Maine (WMTW) - Students in Lewiston, Maine, returned to school for the first time since a pair of deadly shootings at area businesses last week.

School officials said they planned an intentionally light day that will give students time for reflection.

Superintendent Jake Langlais said the plan will continue throughout the rest of the week, with early dismissals scheduled for Wednesday and Friday of this week along with every subsequent Wednesday in the month.

“I think in great tragedy there’s opportunity to come out with great growth and even better and stronger than before,” Langlais said. “So when people say Lewiston Strong, I think we were already strong and it’s going to be Lewiston Stronger.”

Meanwhile, the revelations continue to surface from the ongoing investigation.

A document obtained Monday from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office reveals the family of Robert Card reported fears about his deteriorating mental health nearly six months before the deadly mass shootings.

The documents state Card’s family members went to the Sheriff’s Office “saying that Robert was likely hearing voices and starting to experience paranoia.” It adds: “Robert became very angry, accusing family members of talking behind his back.”

The family members stated to officers they were concerned Card had access to firearms.

Another document indicates that a staff sergeant with the Army Reserve reached out to authorities in September to inform them of concerns a little over a month before the shootings at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar and Grille. That document indicates that deputies tried to make contact with Card and issued a File 6 notice.

A File 6 is used when authorities try to locate a person. The alert against Card included that he was “armed and dangerous,” as well as details on his behavior.

Upon a second attempt to contact Card, deputies said they saw his car but he did not answer the door.

The report states: “Card could be heard moving around inside the trailer but would not answer the door. Due to being in a very disadvantageous position we decided to back away.”

The File 6 was canceled on Oct. 18, after Card’s brother said he would work to secure any firearms that Card had access to.

Records note that Card spent 14 days in a psychiatric hospital in New York between the two incidents.

Card’s Army reserve unit had grown sufficiently concerned that it had decided to take away his military-issued firearms, the sheriff’s office was told. Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ruth Castro confirmed that account, adding that Card was also declared “non-deployable” and that multiple attempts were made to contact him.

The gunman was found dead Friday amid a widespread manhunt that followed the shooting.

Authorities recovered a multitude of weapons while searching for Card after the shooting and believe he had legally purchased them, including a Ruger SFAR rifle found in his car, officials said Monday. A Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and Smith & Wesson M&P .40-caliber handgun were with his body.

Authorities have not said whether they believe Card planned Wednesday’s shootings in advance. Nearly three months ago, he tried and failed to acquire a device used to quiet gunshots, according to a gun shop owner in Auburn.

Rick LaChapelle, the owner of Coastal Defense Firearms, said Card’s purchase was automatically disqualified after he answered “yes” to the question: “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”

On Monday, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, held a news conference to provide an update on the response to the shooting. The conference turned contentious quickly when Mills declined to provide information about what the investigation has turned up so far.

Mills said state lawmakers would revisit Maine gun control laws. Proposals for tighter laws have stalled or failed in recent legislative sessions.

“I’m not going to stand here today and tell you I’m proposing X, Y and Z,” she said. “I’m here to listen, work with others and get people around the table as promptly as possible.”

The deadliest shooting in Maine’s history stunned a state of 1.3 million people that has relatively little violent crime and only 29 killings in all of 2022.