Police tape cordons off the road to Schemengees Bar and Grille as law enforcement officers maintain their presence in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Credit: Matt Rourke / AP

Maine mass shooter Robert R. Card II willingly went to a New York psychiatric hospital in the months before he killed 18 people and wounded 13 others in a Lewiston bowling alley and bar, according to the New York State Police.

On Thursday, the New York State Police released more details about Card’s time in the state over the summer, saying that the agency only had a limited role in responding to Card. It did not drive him to a psychiatric hospital, for instance, but only helped the military bring him there. 

Under New York law, if the New York State Police knew or believed Card was a threat to others or himself, they could have triggered the state’s red flag law to potentially take Card’s guns — highlighting another potential missed opportunity to intervene. 

“There have been erroneous reports that New York State Police transported Mr. Card to a hospital on July 16,” said New York State Police spokesperson Deanna Cohen. “Mr. Card was never in New York State Police custody and in fact, Mr. Card voluntarily went to the hospital and was driven there by members of his unit.” 

Card was with his Army Reserve unit in West Point, New York, for training, on July 15 when he began to act erratically. According to Army Reserve First Sergeant Kelvin Mote, who is also an Ellsworth police officer, Card went to a convenience store with his fellow reservists to get beer that day. In the parking lot of the store, Card accused three of the soldiers of calling him a pedophile and said he would “take care of it.” 

Card accosted one of his longtime friends and told him to stop calling him a pedophile, according to Mote, who gave this information to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office in September when he requested the office conduct a welfare check on Card.

According to Mote, Card locked himself in a hotel room that night. The next day, July 16, he was taken to a military hospital where a psychologist determined he needed further treatment and evaluation. 

The New York State Police was only involved with Card on July 16 and only in a “supporting capacity,” Cohen said. He was never in state police custody, and a state trooper only followed the car that drove Card to a civilian psychiatric hospital at the request of the military, Cohen said. 

Card remained at the hospital, Four Winds, in Katonah, New York, for about two weeks before he returned to Maine on Aug. 3. 

Shortly thereafter, the Army ruled Card should “not have a weapon, handle ammunition or participate in live-fire activity,” according to Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee. It is a standard Army practice to restrict soldiers’ access to weapons for at least 30 days after an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. 

The Army has not provided more details on how long Card was prohibited from possessing military weapons, citing on-going investigations. 

Card shot and killed 18 people Oct. 25 at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston. He was found dead two days later of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...