Police block the road Oct. 28 while investigating the mass shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer, file

AUGUSTA — The executive director of the commission investigating the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston told lawmakers Monday that the commission has struggled to get people to provide information or turn over records that are important to its work.

The challenge highlights the critical need for the Legislature to grant the commission subpoena power, Anne Jordan said.

“A subpoena to appear and testify, or to produce records, would permit the commission to gather the necessary facts and evidence to fulfill its solemn mission,” Jordan said during a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee. “Without such power, there will be scores of unanswered questions and missing information.”

Jordan said that as commission members – appointed by Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey – have undertaken their work to investigate the mass shooting at two locations that left 18 people dead and 13 injured, they already have encountered several people who have either refused to appear before the commission or have been directed by their superiors to not voluntarily appear.

“Other situations have arisen where persons have refused to turn over records in their possession absent a legal binding order,” she said.

Jordan was one of four supporters of the bill to testify before the committee Monday. No one testified against the bill, L.D. 2192, though the conservative Maine Policy Institute has submitted written testimony in opposition. A work session is expected to take place Wednesday.


The bill, which Mills introduced last week, would authorize the Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston to obtain documents and compel witness testimony. It is sponsored by legislative leaders from both parties, signaling that it will likely get the two-thirds support needed in each chamber to pass as an emergency measure.

Jordan declined to elaborate on her comments outside Monday’s public hearing, during which she also said the commission has been “attempting to work with the U.S. Army and others, but we have run into some issues.”

The gunman in the shootings, 40-year-old Robert Card, of Bowdoin, was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital in New York while on an Army Reserve training trip last summer.

Kevin Kelley, a spokesperson for the commission, said he could not provide further details on what information or testimony the commission has been seeking that it hasn’t been able to get, but said most people have complied voluntarily.

“The commission is currently working with other entities to obtain the testimony and records it feels it needs, but having the power of subpoena will most likely be necessary to fulfill that goal,” Kelley said.

It’s common for state boards and commissions to have subpoena power, but the Lewiston commission currently does not because of its expedited creation via executive order from the governor.


Jerry Reid, the governor’s legal counsel, testified Monday that he was not aware of any precedent in which subpoena power has been granted to a commission appointed by the governor, but he said the shootings also represent an unprecedented situation.

He said the legislation is based on statute granting subpoena power to existing legislative investigative committees.

“It’s intended to provide the commission only with that authority it may reasonably require to do its work,” Reid said.


The Maine Policy Institute, in written testimony, urged the committee to reject the bill because the commission “isn’t truly independent” since it was appointed by the governor and attorney general, both Democrats. It urged lawmakers to create their own commission or use the existing Government Oversight Committee to investigate the shootings.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, expressed similar thoughts when the commission first asked for subpoena power, though Stewart said last week that he now fully supports the bill and believes many in his caucus do as well.


The commission has launched a series of public meetings to gather testimony from key people with knowledge of the Oct. 25 shootings at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille. It heard from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office last week and is slated to hear Thursday from family members of shooting victims.

While some family members will testify publicly Thursday, others have submitted written statements and asked for them to be kept confidential. Some have not responded to inquiries from the commission, Jordan said.

“We have taken a number of steps to keep the victims and their families informed, to give them the right to participate or not participate in this process,” Jordan said. “We want to ensure that whatever the commission does, it does not cause further harm and trauma.”

The commission set a six-month timeline at its initial public meeting Nov. 20 for completion of its work, but may issue an interim report to lawmakers earlier than that, Jordan said Monday. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn by April 17.

“We hope to provide an interim report before this Legislature adjourns,” she said.

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