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Local police describe frantic search for Lewiston mass shooter

Lisbon Police detective Richard St. Amant (left) shows commission members where he and two other officers searched a recycling center parking lot for Robert Card in the predawn hours of Oct. 26.
Steve Mistler
/
Maine Public
Lisbon Police detective Richard St. Amant (left) shows commission members where he and two other officers searched a recycling center parking lot for Robert Card in the predawn hours of Oct. 26.

The state commission investigating the Lewiston shootings on Thursday zeroed in on the response by local law enforcement and its frantic search for the gunman.

At one point officers with Lisbon police department described searching a recycling center parking lot but not the tractor trailer where the shooter's body was ultimately found.

Officers from the Lisbon and Lewiston police departments described a chaotic scene in the aftermath of the Robert Card's rampage as they chased down tips and concerns from residents who mistook loud booms for gunshots and bleating goats for screams.

As law enforcement units converged on a Lisbon boat launch where Card's abandoned car was found, Lisbon Police Detective Richard St. Amant took a small team to the search the parking lot of a recycling center where Card had been employed.

St. Amant and two other officers were lightly armed — just sidearms — as they searched the trailers.

St. Amant said they decided not to do an exhaustive search after they realized that Card was heavily armed and they were vulnerable as they searched in the predawn hours of Oct. 26.

"Tactically it probably wasn't the best for us to be searching in this manner, looking into trailers where basically your upper torso and head are made readily available almost immediately," St. Amant said.

Card's body was found two days later in one of the trailers. An autopsy report said he died between eight and 12 hours before his body was discovered.

Lisbon Police Chief Ryan McGee told the commission that they still don't know if Card was nearby when his officers conducted their search.

"We don't know the answers to those questions. Obviously we'd love to be able to answer them," he said.

Commission members also questioned why a K-9 unit from Topsham was not used to search for Card, but Lisbon officers said it was because the Maine State Police had taken over the investigation and had their own K-9 team.

McGee's officers were first to spot Card's Subaru at a local boat launch.

He told commission director Anne Jordan that his officers formed a perimeter around the vehicle and made sure not to enter it because they didn't want to corrupt the scene or introduce a scent that might throw off a police dog.

"While that lot was in control of the Lisbon Police Department no one went near the car?" Jordan asked.

"Not at one time," McGee replied.

"No vehicle, no person, no dog?" Jordan asked.

McGee: "Nope. None."

McGee also confirmed that a K-9 unit from Topsham was on the scene, but that the dog was never used because Maine State Police had taken over command of the manhunt.

The commission will hear testimony from the state police next week.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.