UNITED STATES NEWS

Killer on the loose: Maine mass shooter was alive for most of massive search, autopsy suggests

Nov 3, 2023, 3:18 PM

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Army reservist who fatally shot 18 people at two locations in Lewiston before disappearing into the night was alive and possibly on the run during a good portion of the huge search that led to community-wide shelter-in-place orders, according to the Maine medical examiner’s office.

Robert Card died from a self-inflicted gunshot that “likely” happened eight to 12 hours before the discovery of his body, based on a time-of-death analysis. That conclusion was announced Friday, a week after his body was discovered in the back of a tractor-trailer on property of his former employer, a recycling center.

In the wake of the Oct. 25 shootings, thousands of area residents sheltered at home behind locked doors as hundreds of law enforcement officers scoured the area looking for Card. He fled in a vehicle that was later found abandoned on a waterfront in a nearby town.

Law enforcement agencies came under scrutiny for not finding Card’s body earlier under the assumption that he killed himself in the hours just after the shootings.

But the time of death provided by the state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, suggests Card, 40, was alive and potentially on the move for more than 24 hours after the killings.

The medical examiner’s office, however, said Card suffered from a condition in which his heart emptied of blood after the gunshot wound, affecting the way the blood settled in his body and potentially making the time of death less certain, according to Lindsey Chasteen, office administrator of the office of chief medical examiner.

A state police spokesperson had no immediate comment on Friday.

Card had been known to law enforcement for months as family members and others became increasingly worried about his mental state.

Concern accelerated following an altercation he had with fellow Army Reserve members. Card and other members of the Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Unit were in New York for training on July 15 when he accused several of them of calling him a pedophile, shoved one of them and locked himself in his motel room.

Concerns over his mental health led to a 14-day hospitalization at the Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, New York.

The worries continued when he returned to Maine. One of Card’s fellow reservists urged a superior to change the passcode to the gate and have a gun if Card arrived at the Army Reserve drill center in Saco, Maine. “I believe he’s going to snap and do a mass shooting,” the reservist wrote.

Sheriff’s deputies visited Card’s house twice, but he didn’t come to the door. A sheriff said his deputies visited Card didn’t have legal authority to break down the door and take Card. The sheriff’s office canceled its statewide alert seeking help locating Card a week before the killings.

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Killer on the loose: Maine mass shooter was alive for most of massive search, autopsy suggests