Records released by Maine law enforcement Thursday revealed new details about the police response in the 48 hours after the Lewiston mass shootings but left some key questions unanswered, such as when the gunman died.
A timeline released by the Maine State Police shows that the agency tried to locate the gunman’s ex-girlfriend within hours of the shootings out of fear that Robert R. Card II might go to her home. Meanwhile, officers with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department went to a Bowdoin home because they believed Card might harm the man who lived there and his family, according to an incident report released to the Globe in response to a public records request.
The timeline, released Thursday afternoon, also shows that the State Police first searched a Lisbon recycling center, where they eventually found Card’s body, at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 26. Officers returned to the recycling center the next day and found Card there at 7:45 p.m., dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. But the new information sheds no light on when he died.
Also unclear from the timeline is if the police were able to find Card’s ex-girlfriend in the hours after the shootings. At 12:43 a.m. on Oct. 26, State Police tactical teams were deployed to a Lisbon, Maine, home where they believed the ex-girlfriend lived. But they left that property after learning the ex-girlfriend was actually in Auburn, according to the timeline. (The authorities’ fear that Card might go after his ex-girlfriend, but not their efforts to locate her, had been previously reported.)
The Sagadahoc sheriff’s deputes went to the Bowdoin home because the people there, including a man and Card’s sister, were “concerned that Robert may be coming there to murder them as there was bad blood between” the man and Card, according to an incident report.
Another Sagadahoc deputy was stationed on Route 125 in West Bowdoin when he realized that there was no law enforcement presence at Card’s home, according to a second incident report. The deputy drove to Card’s Bowdoin home, where he was joined by others. They found the home dark and a dog tied to a run, according to the report.
Card’s home had not been watched by law enforcement “for a time after [Card’s] vehicle was located,” according to the report. “There had been enough time for Card to get home had he obtained another motor vehicle,” the report said. The deputies then watched the home through the night.
The next morning, the State Police searched the home and found “a suicide note and additional weapons,” according to the incident report.
The timeline also shows the confusion that reigned during the 48-hour manhunt for Card. On numerous occasions, it shows, the State Police crisscrossed Sagadahoc County, and the surrounding region, pursuing erroneous tips.
At one point, there were reports of multiple gunshots fired in an area that was being patrolled by multiple teams of law enforcement officers. “Deconfliction between tactical assets deployed in the field” had to be conducted, according to the timeline, before it was determined the reports of gunshots had been false.
The police also investigated a tip about a male running through the woods in Monmouth, a report of a “suspicious male” walking in Lisbon, and information that a search helicopter had picked up a “heat signature” near a walking trail, which were all eventually determined to be false leads. The police also went to Card’s home after coming to believe his cellphone was there, and to Card’s mother’s home after receiving a 911 hang-up at 12:19 p.m. on Oct. 27.
An entry for the night of Oct. 26 shows an extraordinary police response to a Lisbon boat launch where Card’s car was found. At 10:13 p.m., State Police tactical teams reached the boat launch and found “30 to 40 police officers surrounding the suspect’s car. The parking lot was full of police cruisers,” according to the timeline.
“Tactical Teams clear the vehicle,” the timeline says. “Card was not inside, and a rifle and magazines are observed.”
The timeline only shows the activities of the Maine State Police, merely one of the many local, state, and federal agencies that participated in the search. The document also lists the agency’s other responsibilities during the manhunt, including coordinating with the FBI and local authorities, providing food and arranging lodging for responding officers from numerous agencies, and working with Maine Forestry on maps to guide the search.
The timeline contains a 14-hour gap from 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 to 2:45 a.m. on Oct. 27. The Oct. 26 entry at the beginning of that gap states: “Morning missions are completed, and the following afternoon details are assigned: search of Maine Recycling (main building), clear a residence in Brunswick, search the trail to the south of the boat launch, conduct a consent search of a residence in Brunswick.”
The document confirms previously released details about the night of the shooting. At 6:56 p.m., the local 911 call center began receiving reports of an active shooter at the Just-In-Time bowling alley.
At 7:08 p.m., calls came in reporting a shooter at Schemengees Bar & Grille.
At 8:11 p.m., the communication center received false reports that a shooting was occurring at a Walmart distribution center in Lewiston.
At 9:20 p.m., Card was identified as the shooter, according to the timeline. Maine authorities previously said his relatives called the police after recognizing him in surveillance camera images from the scene of the shootings.
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