The victims of the mass shooting in Maine and their families have signaled they want to file charges after officials were criticized for missing red flags — as an investigation into the attack that killed 18 people begins.
Gunman Robert Card killed 18 people and injured 13 others at a bowling alley and bar Oct. 25 in Lewiston in the deadliest mass shooting in Maine history.
Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey created the panel with an executive order Thursday, the same day victims and family members signaled their intent to file suit with requests for 20 state and federal agencies to preserve evidence .
“As we have said, the full facts and circumstances – including any errors or omissions – must be exposed and known to all,” Mills and Frey said in a statement.
“The families of the victims, those who were injured, and the people of Maine and the nation deserve nothing less,” she added.
It comes after reports emerged that Card’s colleagues and families had repeatedly raised the alarm about threats he made in the months leading up to the attack.
Gov. Janet Mills (pictured) and Attorney General Aaron Frey created the panel with an executive order Thursday
The panel was instructed Thursday by Governor and Attorney General Aaron Frey (photo) to “follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
Card slaughtered 18 people on October 25, then fled and eventually shot himself
The independent panel was instructed Thursday by the governor and attorney general to “follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
Members include former judges, prosecutors and mental health professionals.
Lawyers have called on the victims’ families to seek legal justice.
During a roundtable discussion on Monday, prominent attorneys Josh Koskoff of Connecticut and Jamal Alsaffar of Texas pointed out ways Lewiston families can use the civil justice system to find some form of justice.
The Lewiston-based law firm Berman & Simmons is representing multiple victims of the Oct. 25 mass shooting, in addition to handling the estates of the victims who died that day.
“The Lewiston community, especially the victims and their families, have many unanswered questions. Why did this happen? How did the system fail? What changes are needed to ensure this never happens again?’ said attorney Travis Brennan of Berman & Simmons, a Lewiston law firm.
The company sent letters to at least 20 agencies, directing them to “preserve all documents and information that may be relevant to the civil personal injury lawsuits of victims of the Lewiston mass shooting.”
Some of the agencies include the US Army Reserve, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office and Four Winds Hospital in New York.
Card, 40, told his son he was convinced people were calling him a pedophile behind his back. His brother said his mental health problems were made worse by his hearing aids
In the aftermath of the attack, text messages revealed the extent to which Maine police were alerted to mass shooter Card by his fellow service members in the Army Reserves, who reported their fears six weeks before the attack that killed 18 people.
In September, Army reservists were so concerned that Card, 40, was about to kill that they told each other to “change the passcode” for the entrance gate to their base in Saco, and warned each other to be armed in his presence.
“Change the unit gate access code and be armed when Sergeant First Class Card arrives. Please. I think he’s confused in his head.
He added: “He dropped it off and was worried his guns were still in the car… He still has all his guns.”
In another, he said, “I think he’s going to shoot and do a mass shooting.”
The sergeant reported his fears to a supervisor, who then notified sheriff’s deputies with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.
In May, Cara and Colby Card, Robert’s ex-wife and son, visited police to express their concerns
This is the warning every police department in Maine received in September about Robert Card. Two attempts were made to contact him and security was added to the army base, but this was canceled on October 18
No police department or official in Maine has acknowledged missing opportunities to stop the shooting. Above, officials provide an update on Oct. 27 while Card was still on the run
These text messages sent by an Army reservist sergeant to his supervisor in September reveal the extent to which there were concerns about Robert Card. The supervisor called the police, who alerted Card, but nothing was done to bring him in or strip him of his weapons
But all that was done to stop Card was a File 6 alert, sent to police forces across the state, which was largely ignored.
Officers went to his house twice to try to talk to him but were unsuccessful and on October 18, exactly a week before the massacre, the File 6 alert was cancelled.
It described him as ‘armed and dangerous’ and told police to be cautious if they encountered him.
Maine State Police have put the tragedy behind them and say they are not responsible for the alert or responded to it.
An Androscoggin County sheriff’s deputy last month labeled Maine State Police “complete clowns” for their response to the mass shooting.
Now the families of some of those killed are demanding answers about why police didn’t do more to stop Card when they had the chance.
‘He should never have been allowed to walk free, he had made threats and threats. They can’t wash it away and say we did everything we could do,” Leroy Walker, whose son was among those killed, told CBS.
The 40-year-old killed himself after slaughtering 18 at the Lewiston bowling alley and bar.