Maine Shooting

A member of law enforcement walks with a police dog outside a property on Meadow Road in Bowdoin on Oct. 26, searching for Robert Card. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Robert Card’s colleagues and friends in the Army Reserve were worried he would commit a mass shooting, according to documents released by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.

A letter and several texts from members of his Reserve unit in Saco sent to Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office show how worried they were about Card’s declining mental health and threats of violence.

“I love (Card) to death but I do not know how to help him,” one text says. “He refuses to get help or to continue help. I’m afraid he’s going to (expletive) up his life from hearing things he thinks he heard. … And yes, he still has all of his weapons.”

On Monday, Sheriff Joel Merry released a summary of the text messages and a letter Cpl. Kelvin Mote sent to the department in mid-September. Merry said his office intended to release copies of the actual correspondences on Monday but didn’t do so until Wednesday because of a clerical error.

The messages illustrate the level of fear that Card’s colleagues felt barely five weeks before he killed 18 people and wounded 13 more in a mass shooting in Lewiston, the deadliest in Maine history.

“Change the passcode to the unit gate and be armed if sfc Card does arrive. Please,” reads another text message a staff sergeant identified only as “Ssg Hodgson” sent to Mote in the early morning hours of Sept. 15. “I believe he’s going to snap and do a mass shooting.”


Mote, who also is an Ellsworth police officer, said in his letter that Card’s mental state had worsened since the spring when he got a hearing aid and began hearing voices. Mote described a July 15 incident in New York when Card went to a convenience store to buy beer with several other soldiers before becoming physically aggressive and accusing others of calling him a pedophile. On the ride home, he repeatedly said “he would take care of it” but wouldn’t elaborate on what he meant.

The next morning, after Card continued to claim that people were talking about him behind his back, Mote and other soldiers took Card to Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, New York.

“During the four hours I was with Card he never spoke, just stared through me without blinking,” Mote wrote. Card spent 14 days at the hospital before being released. Mote said he didn’t think Card sought additional treatment afterward.


Upon Card’s return to Maine on Aug. 3, the Army declared him “non-deployable” and essentially barred him from using any Army-issued weapons, handling ammunition or participating in live-fire activity, Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee said.

Army officials previously said that the weapons Card used in the shooting were not Army-issued. The Reserve unit Card serves in recently did an inventory of its arms room, where its service weapons are kept, and found that 100% of the weapons were there and accounted for, Dubee said on Friday.


Dubee said the Army Reserve “remained committed to providing care and support” to Card after he was hospitalized in July. He said the Reserve command’s medical management team and surgeon office made “multiple” attempts to contact Card in the following months. He did not say if those attempts were successful

Sometime in September, Mote said in his letter that Hodgson and Card were driving home from a casino when Card began talking about others calling him a pedophile, then punched Hodgson after the staff sergeant asked him to stop “because he was going to get into trouble talking about shooting up places and people.”

Hodgson said that Card told him he had guns and was going to “shoot up” the unit’s Saco drill center and other places.

“I would rather err on the side of caution with regards to Card since he is a capable marksman and, if he should set his mind to carry out the threats made to Hodgson, he would be able to do it,” Mote wrote.

Efforts to reach Mote directly this week to talk about Card and the warning signs he witnessed have been unsuccessful.



The warnings came four months after members of Card’s family told police that he was hearing voices and acting angry and paranoid, according to the report the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office released Monday.

Police told the leadership at Card’s Army Reserve base in Saco about the family’s concerns. At the time, Mote said members of the reserve unit planned to sit down and talk with Card about the issues he was going through.

Despite the warnings, police did not directly confront Card before the shootings last week.

And it’s not clear if the Army took any other steps to help Card after September, including after he failed to show up to his Reserve commitments in September or October, citing work conflicts.

Dubee said Army Reserve commanders only have authority over non-deployed soldiers like Card when they show up to mandated trainings.

According to police reports, deputies twice attempted to meet Card at his Bowdoin home in mid-September. He did not answer the door either time, though his car was outside the home during the second visit and deputies noted that they may have heard him inside his trailer.

The sheriff’s department put out a teletype to other agencies warning that Card was missing, armed and dangerous. But after speaking with Reserve unit commander Capt. Jeremy Reamer, who said Card often grew agitated only to calm down and should probably “have time to himself for a bit,” as well as family members who promised to take and secure Card’s personal weapons, the deputy in charge of the case was satisfied the situation was under control.

The sheriff’s office asked the Reserve unit and the family to keep them informed if Card showed any more troubling behavior. The sheriff’s office canceled its “attempt to locate” alert on Oct. 18, one week before the Lewiston shootings.

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