U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine. Brianna Soukup and Gregory Rec/Staff Photographers, file

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are calling on the Army’s inspector general to conduct a comprehensive review of the events surrounding last month’s mass shooting in Lewiston.

In a letter sent Monday morning to Lt. Gen. Donna Martin, Collins and King posed a series of questions about how the Army handled the shooter, Robert Card, in the months prior. Card was a longtime member of an Army reserve training unit based in Saco – a unit that also includes several law enforcement personnel in Maine.

On Oct. 25, Card entered two businesses in Lewiston, where he fatally shot 18 people and wounded 13 others in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The massacre led to a tense 48-hour manhunt before police found his body in a trailer in Lisbon. He had taken his own life.

Information that has surfaced since shows that Card, who was 40 and from Bowdoin, was acting erratically for months and spent two weeks at a New York psychiatric hospital this summer following an incident with fellow reservists. Family members and friends in the Army unit expressed concerns about Card as recently as mid-September. One reservist even texted another to say he feared Card might snap and “do a mass shooting.”

“As we continue to grieve the needless loss of life that day, we must work to fully understand what happened – and what could have been done differently that might have prevented this tragedy – on the local, state and federal levels,” Collins and King wrote.

An Army spokesperson confirmed on Monday night that the Reserve had launched an internal investigation into Card.


“The Army is in close contact with the Maine delegation and is committed to addressing their questions,” Lt. Col. Ruth Castro, an Army spokesperson, said in an email. “The United States Army Reserve Command is conducting an administrative investigation into the death of SFC Card and the unit’s actions preceding the events of October 25.”

Also last week, Gov. Janet Mills announced she would create an independent commission to examine “the facts of what happened on that tragic night, of the months that led up to it, and of the police response to it.”

“We fully support that effort,” Maine’s senators wrote. “It is also important that we understand what occurred, or failed to occur, at the federal level, including within the Department of the Army.”

Among the questions raised by Collins, a Republican in her fifth term, and King, an independent in his second, were:

• What specific concerns were raised about Card’s mental health, and what action, if any, was taken?

• Were all existing Army regulations, policies and procedures followed?


• Under what circumstances does the Army report its personnel to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System?

• Under what circumstances would the Army seek to invoke a state’s crisis intervention laws to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of a soldier who is a danger to themselves or others?  Were any attempts to invoke such laws made for Card?

• What reforms or actions, if any, is the Army undertaking in response to the events of Oct. 25?

“Nothing we can do will bring back the lives lost in this tragedy, but we can work together to help prevent future shootings,” the letter concludes.

Mills, in announcing the independent commission last week, echoed that it’s vital to acknowledge any mistakes made prior to the Lewiston shootings so that something like this doesn’t happen again.

“It is important to recognize that, from what we know thus far, on multiple occasions over the last 10 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,” Mills said. “This raises crucial questions about actions taken and what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.”


Mills said she would work with Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey to establish the commission and that it would likely include “independent experts with legal, investigative and mental health backgrounds who can bring to bear their experiences in determining and laying out the full and impartial facts.”

Card’s deteriorating mental health, his access to firearms and his specific threats about carrying out a shooting have led to scrutiny of Maine’s “yellow flag” law, which was passed in 2019 and went into effect the next year. The law creates a mechanism where police can seek an order to temporarily seize a person’s guns if they are deemed a threat. But in order for that to happen, a person must be in custody and then must have a psychiatric evaluation before the matter even goes to a judge.

More than 20 states have stricter laws, known as red flag laws, that allow family members or others to petition a court for temporary removal of firearms.

Some state lawmakers and others have said suggested Maine should consider strengthening its law.

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