Sgt. Aaron Skolfield of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office has faced heavy criticism that he should have done more to stop Lewiston shooter Robert Card last fall. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office deputy who has faced intense criticism for failing to confront the Lewiston shooter before he committed a mass shooting filed a 20-page defense of his actions Tuesday morning with the commission investigating the shooting.

In its March 15 interim report, the commission blasted Sgt. Aaron Skolfield for not doing more to disarm Robert Card in September after he learned Card had punched his friend and made threats against his Army Reserve unit’s base in Saco. But in the document Skolfield submitted to the commission Tuesday, which ripped the interim report as “inaccurate and extremely misleading,” he said Card’s Army leaders deserve the blame – not him.

“In what appears to be eagerness to assign blame to someone other than Mr. Card for this horrific tragedy, the commission overlooked or misinterpreted key details and disregarded the limitations on Sgt. Skolfield,” the document reads.

Skolfield has already cited several complaints he has with the document – inaccuracies in the commission’s timeline, an uncritical acceptance of Army testimony and the issuance of an interim report based on incomplete findings – during an interview with the Press Herald in April. The new report, filed with the help of Skolfield’s attorney, is the first formal action he’s taken to dispute the commission’s findings.

The commission’s initial report, which was based on hours of testimony given at public hearings, troves of police reports and other documents, and an unknown number of closed-door meetings and interviews, said Skolfield had enough probable cause to use Maine’s yellow flag law to temporarily confiscate Card’s guns last September.

While the commission acknowledged that Maine laws made it difficult for Skolfield to bring Card into custody once he refused to open the door at his Bowdoin home to police, it said the deputy should have found a way, either by staking out Card’s home or by charging him with a crime.


Skolfield insists this logic only makes sense in hindsight. At the time, he said, he didn’t have all the information about the extent of Card’s mental illness, including the fact that doctors had recommended that the Army keep him away from guns both in Saco and at home. And he said the people who did have that information – Capt. Jeremy Reamer and Sgt. Kelvin Mote – downplayed how seriously they took Card’s threats.

“At no point did Mote or Reamer communicate any urgency to have a welfare check done on Mr. Card. In fact, it was quite the opposite,” the report reads. “Mote, not through his actions before the tragedy, but instead in meaningless words after the Lewiston tragedy expresses his dire concern to the commission.”

Exactly how the Army characterized Card’s illness to police has become a key question at recent commission hearings. Both Reamer and Mote have denied they minimized Card’s threats and have criticized the Sagadahoc sheriff’s office for not finding a way to complete a face-to-face evaluation of Card after Mote’s co-worker at the Ellsworth Police Department passed along the threats against the base on Sept. 15.

“I trusted that the law enforcement, based on the information that they got, would take it and run,” Reamer told the commission on April 11. “I was just expecting them to do their job.”

But Skolfield said this doesn’t square with the fact that Reamer first learned that Card assaulted his friend two days before Mote eventually passed the concerns along the police – a detail that contradicts the commission’s original report. And he cited a recording of a phone call between Reamer and Skolfield on Sept. 16, in which Reamer repeatedly tells Skolfield not to put himself in harm’s way and to instead just “document” the attempted well-being check.

“The only thing I would ask is if you could just document it,” Reamer says in the recording. “Just to say he was there, he was uncooperative, but we confirmed that he was alive and breathing. That’s kind of from our end here all we’re really looking for.”


Mote declined Tuesday to discuss Skolfield’s claims, citing a pending Army investigation into the agency’s handling of Card.

Skolfield also complained that it was unfair and misleading for the commission to release an initial report focusing primarily on the role of the sheriff’s office in the Card case before it had an opportunity to fully understand what Army leaders had done and how that might have affected Skolfield’s decision making process.

Several tough lines of questioning at recent commission hearings suggest that Army leaders will face criticism of their own in the commission’s final report, which it plans on releasing later this year.

This story is part of an ongoing collaboration with FRONTLINE (PBS) and Maine Public that includes an upcoming documentary. It is supported through FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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