LEWISTON, Maine — Months before authorities said an Army reservist killed 18 people in shootings at a pair of businesses in Lewiston, Maine, his family contacted authorities with concerns about his deteriorating mental health.
Robert Card’s family contacted deputies in Sagadahoc County in May, Sheriff Joel Merry said Monday in a statement.
“They were concerned for his well-being and said that Mr. Card had access to firearms,” he said.
Card’s ex-wife and son told authorities that he was hearing voices and experiencing paranoia, according to documents released by deputies on Monday night and obtained by The Portland Press Herald. They said he had recently picked up about 10 or 15 handguns or rifles that he had been keeping at his brother’s house, the documents show.
Deputies determined that contacting Card’s command in the Army Reserve was “the best avenue to get Robert some help,” and so authorities spoke with representatives from the 3rd Battalion 304 Training Group, records show. Authorities said the representatives “assured our office that they would ensure that Card received medical attention,” and his unit sergeant also planned to speak with Card.
In September, deputies got an email from Card’s Army Reserve unit in Saco, asking for a wellness check.
“Card is having psychotic episodes,” according to a report from the sheriff’s office obtained by WMTW.
While at West Point in July, Card accused fellow soldiers of calling him a pedophile and shoved one of them, prompting a two-week stay in a psychiatric hospital, the Press Herald reported. He also threatened “to shoot up the drill center at Saco and other places,” according to an incident report.
Deputies tried twice in September to meet with Card, without success, Merry said. On Sept. 15, no one answered the door, and deputies issued a File 6 — an attempt to locate teletype — to other law enforcement officials. The next day, deputies visited again and thought they might have heard Card moving around his trailer. He did not answer the door.
“Due to being in a very disadvantageous position we decided to back away,” authorities said, according to WMTW.
A deputy contacted Card’s unit commander, who said that he no longer had access to weapons from the Reserve unit, Merry said.
“His commander advised that they were trying to get treatment for Mr. Card and that he thought it best to let Card have time to himself,” according to the sheriff.
A deputy spoke with Card’s brother on Sept. 17, and the brother said he would work to secure firearms that Card had access to.
“Our deputy also asked that the family call back if they believed that Mr. Card (needed) an evaluation or was a risk to himself or others,” Merry said.
Authorities canceled the File 6 alert on Oct. 18. One week later, on Oct. 25, Card opened fire at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille.
Two days later, amid a massive manhunt for Card, authorities found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, The Associated Press reported.
“We believe that our agency acted appropriately and followed procedures for conducting an attempt to locate and wellness check,” Merry said Monday.
“My office will evaluate our policies and procedures for how we conduct wellness checks with the goal of making any improvements that are in the interest of public safety while balancing the rights of individuals.”