Maine Shooting

In this image taken from New York State Police body camera video, New York State Police interview Army Reservist Robert Card, the man responsible for Maine’s deadliest mass shooting, at Camp Smith in Cortland, New York, on July 16, 2023.

The Bowdoin man who threatened to attack his Army Reserve base weeks before killing 18 people in Lewiston received a glowing evaluation from his superior officers in April 2023, several months after family members say he began acting paranoid and aggressive.

Robert Card was “a consummate professional” who showed the “ability to train future leaders with great care for their safety and well being,” according to the evaluation.

The Army released a trove of documents Monday afternoon from Card’s personnel file in response to a public records request. The file outlines most of the arc of his 20-year career with the Army, from his enlistment as a student at the University of Maine in 2002 to his final review last April, when evaluators said he “exceeded standards” and should remain on track for promotion.

“He has excelled as a squad leader, mentoring his troops to be among the best. SFC Card should be sent to his next (noncommissioned officer education system) and promoted with his peers,” the April review states. Card “willingly accepted opportunities for greater responsibility and excelled in those endeavors.”

The file did not include any disciplinary records, but it’s unclear if that’s because the records do not exist or because those files are not subject to public records laws. Federal law limits what military personnel records are publicly available without a veteran’s or their family’s permission.

All of Card’s annual evaluations were consistent – most were exemplary. For years, he won praise for his professionalism and for putting his fellow soldiers above himself. The file shows he reenlisted in December 2013 for another six years, earning an $8,000 bonus.


Sometime between 2015 and 2016, he volunteered to become one of his unit’s suicide prevention officers and attended a related training – some eight years before police said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In July 2020, he was promoted to sergeant first class. He was later given an award for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic – one of several awards he received in his career.

Warning: This video contains profanity. The interview with Robert Card begins around minute 55. 

But notably absent from the file are any references to Card’s declining mental health, to his hospitalization last July after he threatened a squadmate during the unit’s annual training in New York, or to the threats he allegedly made against his unit in September, which prompted his commanding officers to ask the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office to check on Card, and the Saco police department to monitor the unit’s base.

The same month that Card’s last annual evaluation was finalized, his ex-wife and son had met with a Sagadahoc County deputy and reported that Card’s mental health appeared to be declining. Starting in January, they told police, Card began claiming that people around him in public places were insulting him and calling him a pedophile, even when no one appeared to be saying anything at all to him.

It got worse after he got hearing aids that February, Card’s brother told police.

In mid-April, just a few days after his Army evaluation period ended, Card accused his son of insulting him behind his back and got very angry, the son told police, according to a report released by the sheriff’s office after the Lewiston shooting. 


Card’s son told police that he was worried by his father’s access to more than 10 guns, according to the report. One of his fellow reservists told New York police in July that Card had “$20,000 to $30,000 worth of guns” at home in Maine.

On the advice of Card’s ex-wife and son, the Sagadahoc deputy never confronted Card. Instead, he contacted Card’s commanding officers in the Army Reserve unit, who promised to sit down with Card and ask him if anything was wrong.

It’s unclear if that meeting ever occurred, and nothing in the file the Army made public mentions the warnings from the sheriff’s office.

But body camera footage from July 2023 suggests several members of Card’s unit were aware of his deteriorating mental health even before he arrived to the unit’s annual training and immediately started accusing his former friends of insulting him. One soldier, captured on footage by three New York state troopers, said he’d heard that Card had lost his job and become estranged from his family as a result of his paranoid behavior, which both family members and soldiers speculated could be linked to hearing aids that he began wearing that winter.

It’s unclear if any of the soldiers who spoke with police that day (many of them police officers themselves) are the same ones who signed Card’s annual evaluations – their identifying information is redacted in both sets of records.

An Army spokesperson confirmed that Card spent two weeks in a New York psychiatric hospital following his encounter with New York state troopers, but it remains unclear what steps the Army took to help him after his release and the Army medical records requested by the Press Herald were not released Monday.

The spokesperson said Army medical staff made “multiple attempts” to contact Card over the next several months but has not confirmed whether they ever reached him or provided him help.

The governor’s commission investigating the Lewiston shooting has asked members of the Army to testify at a public hearing, but the invitation has not yet been confirmed.

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