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News / Nation & World

Maine gunman says reservists were worried he was going to do something because ‘I am capable’

By Associated Press
Published: February 16, 2024, 10:36am

PORTLAND, Maine — An Army reservist responsible for Maine’s deadliest mass shooting told state police in New York before his hospitalization last summer that fellow soldiers were worried about him because he was “gonna friggin’ do something.”

Reservist Robert Card told troopers who escorted him to a hospital in upstate New York that fellow reservists and others kept talking about him behind his back, “and it’s getting old,” according to police body cam video obtained by WMTW-TV and others under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

“They’re scared ‘cause I’m gonna friggin’ do something. Because I am capable,” Card said to the New York State Police officers.

The release of the police body cam video recorded July 16 followed the release of a new detail Thursday by Maine State Police who addressed an independent commission investigating the tragedy: A review of Card’s cellphone revealed a note he had written three days before the Oct. 25 shooting in Lewiston in which he said he’d “had enough” and warned he was “trained to hurt people.”

The 40-year-old Card killed 18 people and wounded 13 at a bowling alley and a bar, leading to the largest manhunt in state history and tens of thousands of people sheltering in their homes. Card’s body was found two days later. He had died by suicide.

The police body cam video provided a chilling glimpse of Card after he had been involved in an altercation and locked himself in his motel room, alarming fellow reservists from Maine. He appeared thinner than normal, his fellow reservists said.

An earlier report by state police indicated he had threatened fellow reservists. But New York State Police said in a statement that he was never in custody. Card was driven to Keller Army Hospital for evaluation by fellow reservists, and troopers followed the private vehicle. Card ended up spending two weeks at a psychiatric hospital.

Police and the Army were warned Card was suffering from deteriorating mental health long before the shooting.

Family members warned police in May that that the 40-year-old Card was growing paranoid and expressed concern about his access to guns before the incident unfolded while his unit was training in July in upstate New York. In August, the Army barred Card from handling weapons on duty and declared him nondeployable.

Then in September, a fellow reservist who considered Card to be his best friend provided a stark warning, telling an Army superior that Card was going to “snap and do a mass shooting.”

Dressed in gym shorts and an Army T-shirt, Card told New York state police people were talking behind his back for about six months. He said people were starting rumors that he was gay and a pedophile. He said he’d heard snippets of people talking behind his back, and that he’d heard that the rumors were posted online, though he could not find anything online.

Card also told troopers he was not on any prescription medication.

In Maine, a warning that Card might “shoot up” the Saco armory where his reserve unit was based prompted a Sagadahoc County deputy to try to meet with Card at his home in Bowdoin. Card did not come to the door, even though he was believed to be inside, and the deputy said he did not have legal authority to knock down the door to force an encounter to assess whether he should be taken into protective custody. That step is necessary to trigger Maine’s “yellow flag” law, which allows a judge to temporarily remove someone’s guns during a psychiatric health crisis.

The deputy said an Army official suggested letting the situation “simmer” rather than forcing a confrontation. The deputy also received assurances from Card’s family that they were removing his access to guns.

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