Maine police under scrutiny as governor launches probe into mass shooting

Robert Card’s family members had alerted police about his concerning behaviour months before the Lewiston mass shooting

Kelly Rissman
Saturday 04 November 2023 12:37 GMT
Maine governor ignores questions from CNN reporter about shooter warning signs

Maine Governor Janet Mills has launched an independent probe “to determine the facts and circumstances” surrounding the run-up to the Lewiston mass shooting – days after she was confronted about certain alarm bells about the gunman seemingly going unheeded by police.

On 1 November, Ms Mills issued a statement about the panel’s creation.

“It is important to recognize that, from what we know thus far, on multiple occasions over the last ten months, concerns about Mr. Card’s mental health and his behavior were brought to the attention of his Army National Reserve Unit, as well as law enforcement agencies here in Maine and in New York. This raises crucial questions about actions taken and what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring,” the statement read.

She mentioned that Maine State Police are in the midst of conducting “a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation of the shooting.”

She added: “I also believe that the gravity of this attack on our people – an attack that strikes at the core of who we are and the values we hold dear – demands a higher level of scrutiny.”

The commission will be made up of “independent experts with legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds,” the statement said.

The governor said she hopes to announce the commission members next week so the panel “may conduct itself with a due sense of urgency, and above all else, follow the facts wherever they may lead”.

A sign reading ‘Lewiston Strong’ stands in the Maine community scarred by America’s latest mass shooting
A sign reading ‘Lewiston Strong’ stands in the Maine community scarred by America’s latest mass shooting (AFP via Getty Images)

The statement continued: “This – the complete facts and circumstances, including any failures – must be brought to light and known by all. The families of the victims, those who were injured, those who are recovering, and the people of Maine and the nation deserve nothing less.”

The announcement comes mere days after reporters demanded an explanation from the governor about why local police hadn’t shared certain pertinent information about gunman Robert Card with federal authorities ahead of the tragedy — information that may have helped to prevent the tragedy from taking place.

These missed warning signs – months before Card allegedly committed the deadliest mass shooting of 2023 – include concerned family members contacting police, reports that Card had made gun violence threats at his workplace, a 14-day stay at a mental health facility, an alleged assault against a friend and fellow soldier, and his intention to purchase a gun silencer.

At a press conference earlier this week, a CNN reporter pressed the governor on the matter: “Governor, you really don’t know what we’re talking about? Is that what you’re going to stand here and tell us? Governor, everyone here wants to know that answer.”

“It’s under investigation,” Ms Mills replied dismissively.

The shooting claimed 18 lives and injured 13 others.

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