AUGUSTA, Maine – An independent commission in Maine is investigating the response to a mass shooting that killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a restaurant in Lewiston on Oct. 25. The commission, assembled by Gov. Janet Mills and state Attorney General Aaron Frey, is tasked with reviewing the events leading up to the tragic shootings.
During the commission’s hearings, police officers acknowledged missed opportunities to end the manhunt for the shooter. The shooter, Robert Card, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot at a recycling facility in Lisbon two days after the shootings. However, police had a potential opportunity to end the dragnet a day earlier but did not find anything during a cursory search.
The commission has heard from officers with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, as well as members of the Lewiston and Lisbon police departments. Testimonies focused on the immediate aftermath of the shootings and the subsequent manhunt for Card. Police officers described the chaotic scene and the challenges they faced, including receiving bad tips while investigating.
Lawyers for the victims have pointed to potential missed opportunities to prevent the shootings in the preceding weeks, citing warnings about Card’s deteriorating mental health and potential for violence. The commission is expected to investigate these missed opportunities and produce a written report in the coming months.
In addition to the hearings with law enforcement officers, tearful family members of the victims have also spoken to the commission, urging them to ensure that others don’t experience a similar fate. On a positive note, Gov. Janet Mills has announced a series of proposals aimed at preventing future tragedies, including boosting background checks for private sales of weapons and improving mental crisis care.
The independent commission hopes to hear from Army officials at a future hearing, aiming to gain insights into Card’s behavior and interactions within the military. As the investigation continues, the commission remains focused on uncovering lessons that can prevent similar tragedies in the future.