A forensic evaluation of Robert Card’s brain found that the Lewiston gunman likely was suffering from a traumatic brain injury when he shot and killed 18 people in Maine’s deadliest mass shooting in October.

Card was a longtime instructor at a U.S. Army hand grenade training range in New York state, where it is “believed he was exposed to thousands of low-level blasts,” according to findings that Card’s family released Wednesday through the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Maine Shooting

Robert Card talks to New York state troopers in this image taken from an officer’s body camera video during an interview at Camp Smith in Cortlandt, New York, on July 16, 2023. The interview resulted in Card spending two weeks in a psychiatric hospital. WMTW-TV 8/New York State police via AP

Card’s body was found 48 hours after the Oct.25 shootings in a storage container in Lisbon. A medical examiner ruled he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Maine’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in December that it sent some of Card’s brain tissue to Boston University, which has the nation’s largest brain bank focused on studying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

“Robert Card had evidence of traumatic brain injury. In the white matter, the nerve fibers that allow for communication between different areas of the brain, there was significant degeneration, axonal and myelin loss, inflammation, and small blood vessel injury. There was no evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),” said Dr. Ann McKee, director of the Boston University CTE Center which performed the analysis.

“These findings align with our previous studies on the effects of blast injury in humans and experimental models. While I cannot say with certainty that these pathological findings underlie Mr. Card’s behavioral changes in the last 10 months of life, based on our previous work, brain injury likely played a role in his symptoms.”


Research from the National Institutes of Health has linked traumatic brain injuries with personality changes, emotional disorders and cognitive decline.

In addition to sharing the results of the analysis, Card’s family also released a statement for the first time, expressing deep sadness for the victims, survivors and their loved ones.

Police and medical officials are seen the night of Oct. 25 outside Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston after the mass shooting in the city. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal, file

“We are hurting for you and with you, and it is hard to put into words how badly we wish we could undo what happened. While we cannot go back, we are releasing the findings of Robert’s brain study with the goal of supporting ongoing efforts to learn from this tragedy to ensure it never happens again.”

“We know it does not fully explain Robert’s actions, nor is it an excuse for the horrific suffering he caused, but we thank Dr. McKee for helping us understand his brain damage and how it may have impacted his mental health and behavior,” the statement says. “By releasing these findings, we hope to raise awareness of traumatic brain injury among military service members, and we encourage more research and support for military service members with traumatic brain injuries.”

The family said it would not be making further comments.

The foundation said Card’s brain will continue to be studied. The study of CTE has advanced in recent decades, including studies of the brains of deceased professional football players, who had concussions and were exposed to numerous lower-impact hits.


Card, 40, of Bowdoin, was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and would run firearm and hand grenade trainings during annual events at the West Point base in New York. He was a longtime member of a Saco-based Army Reserve unit that regularly conducted training in New York, including last summer when he was hospitalized for two weeks after fellow reservists expressed concerns about his well-being.

Despite that hospitalization, as well as documented concerns by reserve members several weeks after he was released, Card had access to numerous firearms and was able to buy more prior to the shooting. Maine lawmakers are considering numerous gun reform proposals in the current legislative session, in response to the mass shooting

Reserve unit members had contacted Maine law enforcement in September to conduct a welfare check on Card because they feared he would become violent. Police were never able to connect with Card at his house in Bowdoin.

The finding that Card’s brain showed evidence of traumatic brain injury come as U.S. Army personnel are scheduled to testify Thursday morning before the state commission investigating the Lewiston shootings.

The testimony could shed more light on Card’s experience as a reservist and his declining mental health before the mass shooting.

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