A special commission has been established to delve into the tragic mass shooting that occurred in Lewiston, Maine, last month, resulting in 18 fatalities and 13 injuries, as confirmed by the state’s governor and attorney general this Thursday.
Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey jointly announced that the seven-member commission must comprehensively investigate the incident. The investigation will explore various aspects, including how the suspected shooter, Robert Card, a 40-year-old U.S. Army reservist, was able to execute the horrific act despite displaying clear signs of deteriorating mental health in the period leading up to the October 25 attack.
Composed of legal, investigative, and mental health professionals, the commission will aim to uncover the full circumstances surrounding the October 25th shootings in Lewiston. They will also assess the police’s response to the incident. “We expect you to pursue the truth wherever it may lead, free from bias and with complete objectivity,” wrote Mills and Frey in their directive to the commission.
The shooting spree took place in two locations: a bowling alley hosting a children’s tournament and a local bar and grill. The alleged shooter was later found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after an extensive manhunt.
The commission will consist of eminent professionals such as Daniel Wathen, former Maine Supreme Court chief justice, who will chair the panel. Other members include Dr. Debra Baeder, a former chief forensic psychologist; George “Toby” Dilworth, a former assistant U.S. attorney; and Ellen Gorman, a previous associate justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Also serving on the commission are Dr. Anthony Ng, a seasoned psychiatrist; Geoffrey Rushlau, a former district court judge; and Paula Silsby, a former U.S. attorney.
In their directive to the commission, Mills and Frey specifically highlighted the deteriorating mental health of Card before the tragic incident. Despite several concerns raised about Card’s mental stability and behavior by his Army Reserve Unit and law enforcement agencies, the necessary steps to prevent such a catastrophe were not taken.
Documents reveal that as early as January, Card’s mental health had begun to deteriorate, with his condition worsening by May. Despite his family’s concerns and their pleas to law enforcement, no action seems to have been taken to prevent Card from accessing firearms.
In July, Card was admitted to Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah, New York, for treatment and evaluation. However, he was released after 14 days. In September, after a fellow soldier expressed fear that Card might commit a mass shooting, a health and welfare check was requested for Card.
Despite all these warning signs, Card was allowed access to firearms, leading to the horrific events of October 25 in Lewiston.