The commission set up to investigate the Lewiston mass shooting hears testimony from members of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office – from left, Sheriff Joel A. Merry, Lt. Brian Quinn, Sgt. Aaron Skolfield and Deputy Chad Carleton – during its second meeting in January. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The commission investigating the Lewiston mass shooting issued an interim report Friday saying police had enough information to take the gunman into protective custody and initiate the yellow flag law to take away his weapons prior to the tragedy.

In a 30-page report released Friday, the commission called a Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s failure to take Robert Card into custody in mid-September “an abdication of law enforcement’s responsibility.”

“The SCSO had information that a member of its community with serious mental illness had been hospitalized for two weeks related to that illness, had access to 10-15 firearms, had assaulted his friend days earlier, had threatened to shoot up the drill center in Saco and other places, and had threatened to ‘get’ his superiors who were responsible for his hospitalization,” the report reads.

“The ultimate response to this information was to leave the responsibility for the removal of Mr. Card’s weapons, and the assessment of whether Mr. Card needed a mental health evaluation, with Mr. Card’s family, and close the case without any plans for follow up.”

The document, which the commission unexpectedly released at 5 p.m. Friday, contains a detailed timeline of law enforcement’s previous interactions with Card and of the Oct. 25 mass shooting that left 18 people dead and 13 others injured. The group said its findings are based on private closed-door testimony, a terabyte of electronic records, legal research and seven public hearings held over the course of two months.

Shooting commission members Geoffrey Rushlau and Dr. Anthony Ng listen to testimony from family members of the victims on Feb. 1. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

During those hearings, commission members have probed law enforcement officers and members of Card’s Army Reserve unit with difficult questions about their failure to stop the shooting, but they largely avoided sharing their own judgments with the public.


But Friday’s damning report was unambiguous: Both the Army and the sheriff’s office should have done more to stop Card.

In addition to the deputy’s failure, Card’s Army commanders failed multiple times to communicate with local law enforcement, the document states.

In June, a Sagadahoc deputy attempted to call Sgt. Kelvin Mote (who is also a ranking officer at the Ellsworth Police Department) to share new concerns Card’s family had raised about his behavior, a month after they first sounded the alarm.

The deputy said the family wanted to talk “about trying to get Mr. Card into the VA Hospital at Togus.”

Mote didn’t pick up and never returned the call, the report states.

After Card spent two weeks at Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, New York, following an argument during his unit’s annual training that summer, his medical providers shared a list of recommendations with Capt. Jeremy Reamer: The Army Reserve should ensure that Card attend all follow-up appointments, restrict access to his military weapons, and take steps to make sure he did not have access to firearms at his home.


But while the Army did prohibit Card from having access to military weapons, Reamer, a police officer in Nashua, New Hampshire, did not pass the concerns about Card’s known personal stash of guns on to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, the report states.

And when Card again made threats about shooting up his Army Reserve center, the Army took little action, the commissioners wrote.

“The Army Reserve did not encourage law enforcement to charge Card for threatening to ‘shoot up’ the (Saco) facility,” the report said. “They failed to divulge Four Winds’ recommendations and concerns. They treated Card as a high risk of violence against the unit’s members, but appeared to minimize the threat he posed once they were satisfied that Card was not coming to the unit on September 16, 2023.”

Yet even though the Army should have shared more information with local police and pressed them to take concerns about Card seriously, the commissioners found that Sagadahoc County deputies – especially Sgt. Aaron Skolfield – still had “more than sufficient information” to either pursue criminal assault charges, including assault, or to initiate a yellow flag process.

The commission said Mote had even gone so far as to do most of the paperwork for them. 

Sgt. Kelvin Mote of the Ellsworth Police Department pauses on March 7 while answering questions from the commission investigating the Lewiston mass shooting. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“Sgt. Mote prepared a detailed narrative outlining all that had happened with Mr. Card in the previous months, which he told the commission he intended to be ‘a statement of probable cause’ for use by the (Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office) to begin the process of securing a Yellow Flag order,” the report reads.


Department leaders and Sagadahoc County District Attorney Natasha Irving have defended Skolfield in the wake of the shooting. They’ve described him has a dedicated officer who does everything in his power to keep his community safe, despite the department’s limited manpower.

They have said Skolfield could not have enacted Maine’s yellow flag law because the law only allows police to take someone into protective custody after a face-to-face meeting, and Card refused to answer his door for police.

But the commission took several issues with Skolfield’s response. Its report excoriated him for only attempting to meet Card twice; for failing to look up Card in the agency’s system, where he would have seen the previous report from May; for choosing not to interview the friend who reported Card’s threats against the Saco Army Reserve unit; and for closing the case instead of passing it along to a co-worker when he went on leave the day after he attempted to visit Card.

Sgt. Aaron Skolfield, second from right, of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, defended his interactions with Robert Card at a hearing in January, saying he couldn’t have taken Card into custody for terrorizing because he didn’t have jurisdiction and no one wanted to press charges. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Skolfield had considered the matter “resolved,” the commissioners wrote, because no one “expressly stated that they ‘wanted to press charges.’ “

“The ultimate response to this information was to leave the responsibility for the removal of Mr. Card’s weapons and the assessment of whether Mr. Card needed a mental health evaluation, with Mr. Card’s family and close the case without any plans for follow up.”

The commissioners unanimously found that the department should have found a way to confront Card – either by initiating a yellow flag process and staking him out or by pursuing criminal charges related to his threats or his fight with his friend.

“Had they done so, an arrest warrant could have been secured and Mr. Card could have been taken into custody,” the report reads. “The prosecutor could then have requested bail conditions that prohibited Mr. Card’s ownership or possession of firearms.”

A spokesperson said in an email that the commission continues to investigate and that a final report is expected later this year.

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