A Maine sheriff says he sent an alert to all law enforcement agencies in the state last month after learning an Army reservist had threatened his base, a notification that came weeks before the reservist killed 18 people in America’s deadliest mass shooting. years.
Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said he sent out an alert sometime in September in an attempt to find Reservist Robert R. Card II, 40, who is said to have made threats in connection with the Army Reserve Center in Saco, Maine. He said he sent a deputy to Mr. Card’s home, but the deputy did not find him there, prompting the sheriff to send out the notice.
The discovery is the strongest indication yet that police were aware Mr. Card was a potential danger before he went on a rampage at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston on Wednesday night.
“The guys, as far as I know, did their due diligence and tried to locate Mr. Card, but they couldn’t,” Sheriff Merry said in an interview Saturday night.
The Maine Department of Public Safety, which led a two-day search for Mr. Card before he was found dead in a trailer at a recycling plant Friday night, did not respond to requests for comment. Associated Press first reported on the sheriff’s alert.
Sheriff Merry declined to comment further on the reported threats, and it was unclear whether any other departments that received the sheriff’s alert had attempted to locate Mr. Card. Contacted Saturday, two Maine police chiefs said they did not recall receiving an alert, although they said they had received many such notifications.
The Pentagon’s public affairs office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday night. Mr. Card enlisted in the Reserves in 2002 and trained as a petroleum specialist, whose job included shipping and storing fuel; he did not serve in any combat deployments.
Earlier on Saturday, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety said Mr Card was paranoid and may have heard voices. The commissioner, Michael J. Sauschuck, suggested that Mr. Card had most likely been to the bowling alley and bar before, and may have carried out the attack in part because he falsely believed that “people were talking about him.”
During a recent visit to a National Guard training facility outside Peekskill, N.Y., Mr. Card had an encounter with officials and was later evaluated at a mental health facility, according to a senior law enforcement official. Mr. Sauschuck said he had no information to suggest that Mr. Card was ever involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.
Mr. Card had purchased several guns legally, including several days before the attack, according to Jim Ferguson, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ field division in Boston.
After the shooting, Mr. Card fled toward the Androscoggin River, the police said, leaving his car about a 15-minute drive from the bar he had just attacked. A two-day manhunt ensued, and the state issued a shelter-in-place order affecting thousands of residents.
During that time, police twice searched the recycling plant where Mr Card had previously worked, near where he had left his car. But they didn’t realize that the dirt lot across the street that housed dozens of trailers was part of the property. When they searched the trailers, they found him in one, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Shaila Dewan, John Ismay, Serge F. Kovaleski and Amelia Nierenberg contributed to the reporting. Jack Begg contributed to the research.