Six weeks before an Army reservist fatally shot 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, the police received alarming warnings that the reservist had grown increasingly paranoid, punched a friend and said he was going to carry out a shooting spree. But no law enforcement officials ever made contact with him, according to records released on Monday.
The warnings about the reservist, Robert R. Card II, 40, were far more explicit than Maine officials have publicly acknowledged in the wake of last Wednesday’s attack, America’s deadliest mass shooting this year. They came from Mr. Card’s family members — who believed he was hearing voices — and his Army Reserve unit in Saco, Maine, and were investigated by the Sheriff’s Office in Sagadahoc County, where Mr. Card lived.
In September, the Army Reserve contacted the Sheriff’s Office, saying that Mr. Card had accused several friends, in what struck them as a paranoid delusion, of calling him a pedophile and recently punched one of them.
The Reserve also told the Sheriff’s Office that Mr. Card had been treated at a psychiatric hospital in New York for two weeks in July, after an incident in which he accused “several other soldiers” of calling him a pedophile. More recently, the Reserve said, Mr. Card had told a friend that he had guns and was “going to shoot up the drill center at Saco and other places,” according to a report written by a sheriff’s sergeant.
The sheriff’s sergeant, Aaron Skolfield, went to Mr. Card’s home on Sept. 16 and tried to make contact with him. But no one came to the door, despite the sergeant hearing someone he thought was Mr. Card moving around inside.
Sergeant Skolfield said in the report that soon after, he spoke with Mr. Card’s commanding officer, Capt. Jeremy Reamy. According to the sergeant’s report, Captain Reamy said that he thought it was best for Mr. Card to “have time to himself for a bit.”
He also said that the Reserve was working to get Mr. Card to retire and receive mental health treatment.
Captain Reamy declined to comment on Monday. The Army Reserve said in a statement that it had reached out to the Sheriff’s Office regarding Mr. Card “out of an abundance of caution after the unit became concerned for his safety.”
Sergeant Skolfield said he had also contacted Mr. Card’s brother, Ryan Card, who said that he and his father would try to take his brother’s guns away. The sergeant said he had urged Ryan Card to contact the sheriff’s department if he felt that his brother needed “an evaluation.” Ryan Card did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sheriff Joel Merry of Sagadahoc County said in a statement on Monday that he believed his department had acted appropriately, but he added that his department would evaluate its procedures for wellness checks.
Sergeant Skolfield declined to comment over the weekend when a reporter contacted him by phone.
Earlier on Monday, Gov. Janet Mills declined to answer questions about law enforcement’s prior interactions with Mr. Card. The state’s public safety commissioner, Michael J. Sauschuck, mentioned only a drunken driving incident in 2007 when asked on Saturday about previous contact.
The September warning from the Reserve was not the first time that the Sheriff’s Office had been contacted about alarming behavior from Mr. Card.
In May, his former wife and teenage son told the police that they were worried that Mr. Card’s mental health was declining, according to a separate report by a sheriff’s deputy, Chad Carleton. Mr. Card’s 18-year-old son told the deputy that at the beginning of the year, Mr. Card started falsely claiming that people were saying derogatory things about him, and that he had recently accused the son of talking about him behind his back.
Mr. Card’s former wife told Mr. Carleton that Mr. Card had recently collected 10 to 15 handguns and rifles from his brother’s home and brought them back to his own house.
Mr. Carleton wrote that he had reached out to the Army Reserve unit in Saco and learned that there was “considerable concern” for Mr. Card’s mental health.
The next day, Mr. Card’s former wife told the police that she had visited Mr. Card with his sister, Nicole, the previous night. He answered the door with a gun, the former wife said, and complained that there were people outside his home, casing it. But she also said that he agreed to see a doctor about his paranoia and hearing voices. It is unclear whether he did so.
Mr. Carleton wrote that Mr. Card’s brother said the paranoia began around the time that Mr. Card got hearing aids, earlier this year. Mr. Card’s sister-in-law told The New York Times last week that he had gotten powerful aids because his hearing had deteriorated after two decades in the Reserve.
Reporting was contributed by Maria Cramer, Shaila Dewan, John Ismay and Dave Philipps. Kirsten Noyes and Jack Begg contributed research.