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Susan Collins, Angus King seek probe of what Army knew about Lewiston gunman's mental health

Eighteen bouquets line the front of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Saturday— one for each victim of Wednesday's mass shooting.
Susan Sharon
Maine Public
Eighteen bouquets line the front of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Saturday, Oct. 28 — one for each victim of Wednesday's mass shooting.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine are requesting a probe by the Army inspector general to determine what the Lewiston gunman’s reserves unit knew about his mental health and if his weapons should have been seized.

The investigation request by Collins, a Republican, and King, an independent, asks what Robert Card’s reserve unit supervisors knew about his deteriorating mental health and whether any of that knowledge should have triggered laws in New York or Maine that would have allowed authorities to take his guns and prevented him from buying more.

The request follows reports that Card’s family and fellow reservists expressed concerns that Card might commit a mass shooting.

Card was also hospitalized in New York this summer after fellow reservists said he demonstrated erratic behavior, but it’s unclear why his hospitalization did not trigger that state’s red flag law. Questions are also being asked about why Maine’s yellow flag law was not in play despite warnings about his declining mental health and a welfare check by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office in September.

“Despite these warning signs, and others, there was no apparent attempt to trigger the crisis intervention laws in New York (where Mr. Card was training and hospitalized) or Maine (where Mr. Card resided). These laws establish procedures to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others,” Collins and King wrote.

Card’s name was not submitted to the background check system used by gun dealers, an act that would have prevented him from buying more guns.

The senators’ request for investigation is in conjunction with a review ordered by Gov. Janet Mills. The governor is expected to announce details of the probe this week.

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