Video shows police knew Maine shooter was a threat. They also felt confronting him was unsafe


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine feared that confronting an Army reservist in the weeks before he killed 18 people in the state’s deadliest mass shooting would “throw a stick of dynamite on a pool of gas,” according to video released Friday by law enforcement.

The footage, which was released to the Portland Press Herald and then sent to The Associated Press, documents a call between Sagadoc County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Skolfield and Army Reserve Capt. Jeremy Reamer. Skolfield was following up with Reamer about the potential threat posed by Robert Card, a 40-year-old Army reservist from the Lewiston area who carried out the Oct. 25 attacks at a bowling alley and a restaurant.

Skolfield mentioned Maine’s yellow flag law, which can be used to remove guns from potentially dangerous people, after Reamer said Card had refused medical treatment after his hospitalization during his Army service.

Reamer echoed the idea that officers could get hurt if they went further to make sure Card wasn’t a threat: “I’m a cop myself. … Obviously, I don’t want to want you guys to get hurt or do anything that would that would put you guys in a compromising position have to make a decision.”

A second video, which is also blurred, shows an officer at the home of Robert Card Sr. trying to check whether the shooter’s brother Ryan has his guns.

“I understand that Ryan has his weapons, and I just want to make sure that’s the case. Are you familiar with that at all?” the officer asks.

But Card Sr. says he hasn’t spoken with Ryan in the last few days.

The officer says he’ll try again later.

“I just wanted to make sure Robert doesn’t do anything foolish at all,” he says.

Two days after the attacks in Lewiston, Card’s body was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound two days after the shootings. Reports soon began to emerge that he had spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital months before the attacks and had amassed weapons.

Under Maine’s yellow flag law, a warning to police can trigger a process where an officer visits an individual and makes a judgment call on whether that person should be placed in temporary protective custody, triggering assessments that with a judge’s approval can lead to a 14-day weapons restriction. A full court hearing could lead to an extension of restrictions for up to a year. Since the Lewiston shooting, questions have been raised about why the law wasn’t used to remove guns from Card.

In the newly released videos, Reamer said the Card family had taken responsibility for removing the weapons, and Skolfield said he would reach out to a brother of Card’s and ensure that any weapons had been removed.

Skolfield referred to the Cards as “a big family in this area,” and indicated that he didn’t want to publicize that police were visiting the home and kept the information off the police radio.

A report released last week by Sheriff Joel Merry previously made clear that local law enforcement knew Card’s mental health was deteriorating. Police were aware of reports that he was paranoid, hearing voices, experiencing psychotic episodes and possibly dealing with schizophrenia.

Merry declined to comment on the release of the videos.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has appointed an independent commission led by a former state chief justice to review all aspects of the tragedy. And Maine’s congressional delegation said Friday there will be an independent Army inspector general’s investigation to review the Army’s actions, alongside an ongoing administrative Army investigation. ___

Associated Press writers Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington and Nick Perry in Meredith, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

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