‘Utter Clowns’: It’s Knives Out Over Maine State Police Massacre Response

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Infighting among Maine law enforcement reached a boiling point this week, with local authorities alleging that Maine State Police botched its manhunt for Robert Card—the gunman who ruthlessly killed 18 people and injured a dozen others last week.

A deputy from the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office went on a tirade against Maine State Police, grilling the agency for its handling of the manhunt and lack of communication with its law enforcement partners.

In a since-deleted Facebook post, Deputy Jon Guay called the department’s leadership “utter clowns” who he wouldn’t hire “to manage the morning rush at Dunkin Donuts, much less an investigation of this size.”

Guay, a sergeant who has been in law enforcement for 24 years, claimed that state law enforcement went “radio silent” with local and federal law enforcement officers on the ground. He said he was ready to hunt down Card, who’d fled a pair of grisly crime scenes at a bar and bowling alley in Lewiston, but his agency was given no guidance or intel.

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Guay said the information vacuum meant hundreds of officers were “left idle” as the Maine State Police took command of the probe, as they do for all of the state’s murder cases outside of Portland and Bangor.

Guay claimed local law enforcement was iced out completely by Maine State Police, despite their familiarity with the area. He added that agencies in Androscoggin County have a communication strategy that enables city police departments to easily communicate with county deputies, but they were unable to put that strategy to use while searching for Card, whose dead body wasn’t found until three days after the murders.

“No one knows this county better than the local officers who work in it,” he wrote. “We have utilized this networking strategy many times before in separate incidents, but when Maine State Police showed up Wednesday night … all that stopped.”

Guay said that he took his gripes public because “every single law enforcement officer” he’s spoken with about the manhunt has shared his sentiments.

He wrote that state law enforcement was too slow in its response to clues, noting that Card’s body wasn’t found for more than three days even though it was about a mile away from his car, which was located on the first night of their search.

“This was a search and destroy mission that needed to be treated as such,” Guay said.

Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson told the Bangor Daily News that he’d discussed the post with Guay and that he understood the officer's perspective. He did not, however, tell him to delete the post.

“He was expressing his frustration, and I get it,” Samson said.

Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, did not address Guay’s specific complaints in a statement to the Daily News.

“It’s unfortunate this statement was made but it was a grueling and frustrating 48 hours for everyone,” Moss said, according to the Daily News.

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Guay’s anger with state law enforcement is shared by other local cops, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported, citing a law enforcement official involved in the manhunt. That officer reportedly said Guay’s Facebook rant reflected “what the people on the ground feel.”

According to the source, one misstep was that the agency opted to wait more than 12 hours—into late Thursday morning—before they began using Card’s abandoned vehicle for tracking and evidence.

“My understanding is that they did not approach the car ’til the next morning,” the anonymous officer said. “There was no dog put on the trail until the next morning as well.”

The anonymous officer reportedly expressed “frustration with Maine State Police” and the delay, which came at a critical time in the hunt for Card. The lengthy search also caused stress among residents of Lewiston and nearby cities, which were put on lockdown out of fear that an armed murderer was on the loose.

The Sun Journal pointed out other apparent flaws in Maine State Police’s search, reporting Tuesday that investigators “botched basic research.”

One prominent misstep was how long it took for officers to decide to search the area where Card was eventually found Friday night—on a property owned by his former workplace, the Maine Recycling Corporation, about a mile from his abandoned car.

Cop lights flash in front of a Maine Recycling Corporation buillding.

Law enforcement officials work at the scene where Robert Card’s body was found in Lisbon Falls.

Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

The Sun Journal reported that public records listed the overflow parking lot where Card was found as belonging to his old employer. That should have made it one of the first places investigators searched, the paper suggested, but it was only probed after the business’ owner mentioned it to the police.

Card was found dead in the back of a large tractor-trailer filled with scrap metal, authorities said Friday. He fatally shot himself after carrying out the state’s deadliest mass shooting.

Card’s motive remains unknown, but officials have said publicly that he suffered from mental health issues. He spent two weeks in a psychiatric facility in July and had been “hearing voices” recently, a loved one told The Daily Beast.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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