Nearly three months before Robert R. Card II fatally shot 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, a gun store refused to give him a firearm silencer he had purchased after he disclosed on a form that he had mental health issues, the owner said actions in the interview on Sunday.
Mr. Card, 40, went to pick up a silencer Aug. 5 from Coastal Defense Firearms in neighboring Auburn, said Rick LaChapelle, the gun store’s owner. Mr. LaChapelle said that Mr. Card purchased a silencer – a device that silences gunshots – from another store, and that store sent it to Coastal Defense Firearms for pickup.
The purchase attempt is one of the first indicators that Mr. Card admitted to having mental health issues. ABC News first time reported when trying to make a purchase.
Questions about Mr. Card’s mental health and his access to firearms have been central to the investigation into the mass shooting, during which Mr. Card killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and bar.
During a recent visit to a National Guard training facility outside Peekskill, N.Y., Mr. Card, an Army reservist, had an encounter with officials and was later evaluated at a mental health facility, according to a senior law enforcement official. But Maine’s public safety commissioner said Saturday he had no information to suggest Mr. Card had ever been forcibly committed to mental health treatment.
When he tried to buy a pistol silencer in August, Mr. Card admitted to having mental health issues on a Form 4473, a federal document that must be filled out and signed in order to return the device. Form 4473 is used to determine whether someone can obtain a firearm or firearms equipment after purchase.
Officials said Mr. Card purchased his guns legally, which means he passed background checks that include an assessment of whether he is mentally fit to own a firearm. It is unclear whether he admitted his mental problems in the previous forms usually required at the time of gun purchases.
One of the questions on the form was: “Have you ever been convicted of being mentally defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” Mr. Card ticked the box, indicating that according to Mr. LaChapelle, who is also a Lewiston city councilman.
The staff at the gun store waited while Mr. Card doesn’t sign the document before refusing to give him a silencer. Mr. Card “was very cordial, very kind” in response, Mr. LaChapelle said.
“He says, ‘It’s not a problem. Okay, let me have my lawyer look at it and I’ll come back and get it later,” he added. “Then he left the store and never came back.”
In September, Sheriff Joel Merry of Sagadahoc County sent an alert to all law enforcement agencies in Maine after learning that Mr. Card had threatened the military base where he was assigned, the sheriff said in an interview Saturday. It remains unclear whether other police agencies saw the warning.
Serge F. Kovaleski and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed to the reporting.