Maine launches independent inquiry into Lewiston shootings

The governor and attorney general of Maine on Thursday launched an independent investigation into the Oct. 25 shooting in Lewiston, Maine, that claimed 18 lives and shattered a community.

Among many aspects to be investigated is the question of how the gunman, Robert Card, obtained his weapons when family and fellow Army Reservists flagged his mental deterioration for months before the massacre.

“We must recognize that, from what we know thus far, on multiple occasions over the last 10 months, concerns about Robert Card’s mental health and his behavior were brought to the attention of his Army Reserve Unit, as well as law enforcement agencies here in Maine and in New York,” Gov. Janet Mills and state Attorney General Aaron Frey said in a letter to a seven-member commission they had appointed for the task. “This raises crucial questions about actions taken and what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.”

The shootings at a bowling alley and a bar-restaurant that October evening shocked the city and put Lewiston and its environs on lockdown while Card’s whereabouts were unknown. He was later found dead of his own accord at a recycling facility that searchers had cleared twice previously.

The newly formed Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston consists of “seven experts with extensive legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds,” Mills and Frey said in a statement. The appointees are charged with seeking the “full and unvarnished facts” of what happened, including “the months that led up to it and the law enforcement response to it.”

In the joint letter Mills and Frey noted that the commission members are “highly respected for your abilities, your expertise, your impartiality, your integrity, and your fair-mindedness.”

Those chosen include former judges, state attorneys, a psychiatrist and a forensic psychologist.

“All that we ask is that you follow the facts, wherever they may lead, and that you do so in an independent and objective manner, biased by no one and guided only by the pursuit of truth,” their charge letter said, adding that their inquiry was to be as transparent as possible, and conducted “with a due sense of urgency.”