Local police criticism of the search for mass shooter Robert Card is spilling into public view nearly a week after the deadly incident in Lewiston.

An Androscoggin County Sheriff’s deputy has harshly criticized the Maine State Police’s handling of communication with local police during the 48-hour manhunt and aftermath. In addition, a local law enforcement official told the Portland Press Herald there was a 12-hour delay in officials finding Card’s vehicle and using it for tracking and evidence, slowing the manhunt.

In a since-deleted Facebook post, veteran sheriff’s deputy Jon Guay said “radio silence” was the best way to describe the flow of information between state police and local law enforcement officers who were involved in the manhunt.

He said teams from the sheriff’s offices, local police departments, and even federal agencies were left out of the loop, and that “any substantial lead or investigatory discovery was held close to the vest” and Guay and other officers only heard information from internal leaks.

Guay said “the upper echelons of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit and Command Staff are utter clowns and I wouldn’t hire them to manage the morning rush at Dunkin Donuts much less an investigation of this size.” He later said his complaints were not directed at state police troopers but rather with those “running the show.”

Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck addresses the media Friday morning on the manhunt for Robert Card, suspected gunman in the Lewiston mass shootings that killed 18 people and injured 13, at a press conference in the council chambers at Lewiston City Hall. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal 

Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, did not respond to emailed questions on Monday and Tuesday about the allegations around the police response and other case details, such as when the recycling center property was first searched.


Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Guay’s deleted Facebook post:

There are indications others involved with the manhunt share Guay’s perspective, including a local law enforcement official who participated in the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk.

“This is somebody that happens to reflect what the people on the ground feel,” the anonymous officer said, referring to Guay’s post.

When local police discovered Robert Card’s abandoned vehicle late Wednesday night at a Lisbon boat launch, at least 12 hours passed before authorities began around 9:45 a.m. Thursday using the vehicle for tracking and evidence linked to the Lewiston mass shooter’s whereabouts, according to the anonymous officer. The officer expressed “frustration with Maine State Police” and “the delay between finding the vehicle and using the vehicle for evidence and tracking.”

“My understanding is that they did not approach the car till the next morning,” the officer said. “There was no dog put on the trail until the next morning, as well.”

The moments immediately after a trail is discovered are some of the most critical in a manhunt, said Michael Gould, a police canine behavioral expert. That’s when police dogs can do their best work.


The length of time since a person was in a location, how the area becomes contaminated with other odors and weather patterns are important variables that work together to impact the strength of a scent trail.

Gould, a founding officer of the New York Police Department’s K9 unit, said that using a police dog in a large, cleared-out swathe of area could have considerably aided the Maine State Police and local law enforcement while searching for Card, whose body was found just over a mile away from his abandoned vehicle.

“Wherever one of the last places a suspect was, a canine should be deployed immediately. That should be the first tool,” Gould said. “(The wrong variables) impede the dog’s ability to work through that. The sooner the better.”

Trailers clearly marked as belonging to the Maine Recycling Corporation can be seen from the road in an overflow parking lot on Capital Avenue in Lisbon on Tuesday. Authorities said they discovered the body of mass shooter Robert Card in a trailer on the property Friday night. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

More so, Gould said canines can quickly find a person of interest when they are within the immediate vicinity. And he believes that a canine could have located Card in the specific trailer if it had been brought to the overflow lot – especially with Maine’s K9 unit.

“Maine State Police has got one of the best K9 units in the country,” he said. “The canine should have been the primary tool to hunt odor.”

The Maine State Police has not yet provided information or responded to questions about how law enforcement utilized police tracking dogs during the manhunt.


Meanwhile, other indications emerged that state police botched basic research during the search for Card over three days that may have resulted in his body being discovered sooner, while the region remained on lockdown out of fear he was armed and on the loose.

Municipal and county officials confirmed that state police didn’t consult them to learn what properties were owned by the Maine Recycling Center, which was Card’s former place of employment about a mile away from where his abandoned vehicle was discovered. Those property records are listed online on the town’s website, and a five-minute search would have revealed the recycling business also owned adjacent properties, including the overflow parking lot at 45 Capital Ave., across the street where Card’s body was eventually found Friday night after the business owner told police they should also check there.

Efforts to reach Maine Recycling Corp officials regarding the police search for Card on the business’ Lisbon property were unsuccessful. A man who answered the phone at the business Tuesday, asked to forward a message to the owner, said no one from the business was talking to the press. He referred to a statement the company had made previously. In it, the company said Card had worked for Maine Recycling Corp for about a year and half, until late last spring, when he left voluntarily.

Michael Sauschuck, Maine’s commissioner of public safety, said in a press conference the owner of the business was diligent to alert authorities about the overflow lot and to ask whether police had searched a number of trailers parked on the lot. Sauscheck said they had not, and “nobody had any idea that across the street, across Capital Avenue, is an overflow parking lot, which is Recycling Corp. property.” Police found Card’s body there Friday night.

Several trailers in that parking lot are clearly marked “Maine Recycling” in lettering visible from the street.

In his Facebook post, Guay said every law enforcement officer he spoke to during the incident felt similarly about the lack of communication from state police.


When asked about Guay’s statements on Tuesday, Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson said he’s “heard concerns” from officers but was not willing to share his thoughts. However, he said, after any “critical incident” like last week’s shooting, an “after-action review” will be conducted, “and we can get those concerns out there” about what could be improved in the future.

He said he’s proud of his department’s response last week and that the community “should be proud of the support” and response from local agencies.

“The numbers that showed up,” he said. “It was an impressive showing, and that support was needed.”

Jason D. Moen, Auburn’s chief of police, said Maine State Police did not withhold any information from his agency.

“At times there was simply no update to give because there was no new information that had been generated,” Moen said. “The Auburn Police Department enjoys a good healthy cooperative relationship with the Maine State Police and will continue to do so.”

On Monday, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office released documents detailing concerns raised by Robert Card’s family and Army Reserve unit, and the department’s failed attempts to contact him.

An aerial view Tuesday morning shows Maine Recycling Corporation property on Capital Avenue in Lisbon. Tractor trailers can be seen at the bottom of the frame, where authorities say the body of mass shooter Robert Card was found. At left is the Androscoggin River. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Guay said Androscoggin County is unique in the connections between police in Lewiston and Auburn, and that information could’ve flowed quickly between those on the ground.

“No one knows this county better than the local officers who work in it,” he wrote in the post. “We have utilized this networking strategy many times before in separate incidents, but when Maine State Police showed up Wednesday night … all that stopped.”

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