Within the wake of the Lewiston mass capturing final week, authorized consultants are questioning whether or not the gunman’s threats and erratic conduct within the previous months ought to have resulted in his arrest.
As extra particulars emerge about Robert R. Card II’s previous, some felony justice observers mentioned they consider his actions have been sufficient to not solely invoke Maine’s yellow flag legislation, which could have prevented him from having weapons, however that police could have had possible trigger to arrest him.
Their observations add to the rising listing of questions on what legislation enforcement officers or the Military Reserve, the place Card was a member, may have completed to handle the warning indicators that Card was a reputable menace to public security earlier than he dedicated the worst mass capturing in Maine’s fashionable historical past.
“There are such a lot of purple flags on this case. I haven’t seen something fairly like this since Nidal Malik Hasan shot up Fort Hood in 2009,” mentioned Joshua Filler, a lawyer and guide who runs Filler Safety Methods Inc. in Falmouth, serving to legislation enforcement businesses forestall and reply to mass shootings and different assaults.
Hasan was sentenced to loss of life for killing 13 folks and wounding 32 others in Texas.
In latest months, a soldier who knew Card predicted that he would commit a mass capturing. When the soldier’s issues have been handed on to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Workplace in September, Kelvin Mote, an Ellsworth police officer and a fellow reservist, added his personal, saying Card was a succesful marksman and requesting that the sheriff’s workplace verify on Card at his dwelling in Bowdoin.
Card had been listening to voices, Mote wrote in a letter just lately launched by the sheriff’s workplace. Card had additionally shoved a good friend within the reserves, incorrectly believing the good friend was calling him a pedophile. Mote and others helped hospitalize Card in New York in July.
“Throughout the 4 hours I used to be with Card he by no means spoke, simply stared by means of me with out blinking,” Mote wrote.
About two months later, a soldier, referred to solely as “Hodgson,” advised Mote that Card had assaulted him, Mote wrote to the sheriff’s workplace, although it wasn’t clear the place this occurred.
“They have been driving dwelling from the on line casino when Card began speaking about folks calling him a pedophile once more. When Hodgson advised him to knock it off as a result of he was going to get into hassle speaking about capturing up locations and other people, Card punched him. Hodgson was capable of get out of the automobile and made his personal manner dwelling. In line with Hodgson, Card mentioned he has weapons and goes to shoot up the drill heart at Saco and different locations,” Mote wrote to the sheriff’s workplace.
Each the Saco police and battalion commander, who additionally works as a police officer in New Hampshire, knew about Card’s menace in opposition to the Military Reserve heart in Saco, Mote mentioned. Saco Police Division Chief Jack Clements didn’t reply to a cellphone name from the Bangor Day by day Information.
Card additionally mentioned he was going to get “them,” referring to the commander and Mote, since they’d gotten him dedicated and have been “the explanation he can’t purchase weapons anymore due to the dedication,” Mote wrote.
Whereas it’s attainable that police decided Card was not making critical threats, it seems that law enforcement officials had possible trigger to arrest Card for assault or terrorizing, and so they had possible trigger to take him into protecting custody, Filler mentioned.
Police can take folks into protecting custody after they consider their psychological sickness presents a chance of great hurt to themselves or others.
Police additionally may have handed over the menace in opposition to the Saco heart to the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Job Pressure for them to research, Filler mentioned.
“Why wasn’t he arrested or on the very least positioned below surveillance? It might come down to precisely what he mentioned, who he mentioned it to,” Filler mentioned. “However that’s why you want the impartial investigation.”
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Tragedy in Lewiston
Learn our full protection in regards to the mass capturing in Lewiston and the aftermath.
On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills introduced she’s going to kind a fee to research the circumstances that led to the mass capturing that killed 18 folks and injured one other 13 at Simply-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar and Grille on Oct. 25.
Card’s household had additionally introduced their issues about Card’s anger and paranoia to police, who relied on the household to take Card’s weapons.
“It doesn’t appear like this was taken frivolously by anybody concerned. My argument that our system and course of is convoluted and unclear appears to be a part of the issue right here. In hindsight, it looks as if he ought to have been taken into protecting custody,” mentioned Michael Rocque, an affiliate professor of sociology at Bates Faculty in Lewiston and an skilled on criminology.
It’s attainable Card may have been charged with assault for punching somebody, however there was not sufficient data within the reviews launched by the sheriff’s workplace to determine possible trigger for an arrest, mentioned Zachary Smith, a Bangor protection legal professional.
“A follow-up investigation by a legislation enforcement officer must get particulars from the one that mentioned he was punched by Robert Card, specifying a date and a city or metropolis,” Smith mentioned.
What’s extra, an assault cost usually results in a summons, which wouldn’t put somebody in jail. To make it an arrestable offense, police should moderately consider the individual could hurt others except instantly arrested, Smith mentioned. Following an arrest, the bail course of can prohibit a defendant from possessing weapons.
As well as, Smith shouldn’t be satisfied that police had sufficient data to arrest Card for the threats he made in opposition to the Reserve heart in Saco.
“I’m not persuaded there was possible trigger to cost felony threatening as a result of that offense requires placing somebody ‘in worry of imminent bodily harm,’ and what was described on this report sounded far too obscure to position anybody in worry of imminent bodily harm,” Smith mentioned.
Some may say that Card ought to have been charged with terrorizing for threatening the Saco facility, Smith mentioned, however the U.S. Supreme Court docket’s opinion in Counterman v. Colorado in June has created uncertainty round how the cost can now be utilized. The courtroom discovered there are limits on legal guidelines that make it a criminal offense to threaten folks.
“The issue is that Maine’s terrorizing statute almost certainly is unconstitutional,” Smith mentioned.
Penobscot County District Legal professional Chris Almy declined to provide his opinion on whether or not there was possible trigger to arrest Card or whether or not he would have taken the potential circumstances to a grand jury, deferring to the Sagadahoc and Androscoggin district attorneys.
These district attorneys, Natasha Irving and Neil McLean, didn’t reply to questions.
Mote and Androscoggin County Deputy Matthew Noyes, each members of the identical Military Reserve unit as Card, didn’t reply to a number of requests for an interview.
Topsham Police officer Gabrielle Mathieu, and Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s deputies Chad Carleton and Aaron Skolfield, who dealt with reviews from members of the family and the Military Reserve about Card, didn’t reply to requests for remark.
BDN reporters Marie Weidmayer and Sawyer Loftus contributed to this story.