Maine Mass Shooter Suffered From Traumatic Brain Injury: Doctors

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 7, 2024US News
Maine Mass Shooter Suffered From Traumatic Brain Injury: Doctors
Robert Card in file images. (Lewiston, Maine Police Department via The Epoch Times)

The man who killed 18 people in a mass shooting in Maine in 2023 suffered from a serious brain injury, doctors said on March 6.

An examination of Robert Card’s brain revealed “evidence of traumatic brain injury,” Dr. Ann McKee, director of the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, said in a statement.

Mr. Card, a reservist with the U.S. Army, for years worked as an instructor at an Army range that trained in the use of hand grenades. This exposed him to thousands of low-level blasts, doctors said.

Relatives of Mr. Card, who was 40 when he died, asked for the analysis of his brain, which showed “significant degeneration” in the white matter, or the nerve fibers that enable communication between different areas of the brain, Dr. McKee said. Doctors also discovered inflammation and blood vessel injury.

“These findings align with our previous studies on the effects of blast injury in humans and experimental models,” Dr. McKee said. “While I cannot say with certainty that these pathological findings underlie Mr. Card’s behavioral changes in the last 10 months of life, based on our previous work, brain injury likely played a role in his symptoms.”

The analysis did not show chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition often caused by repeated concussions that can lead to dementia.

“We are releasing the findings of Robert’s brain study with the goal of supporting ongoing efforts to learn from this tragedy to ensure it never happens again,” Mr. Card’s family said in a statement.

They apologized to the shooting victims and their loved ones.

The analysis “does not fully explain Robert’s actions, nor is it an excuse for the horrific suffering he caused, but we thank Dr. McKee for helping us understand his brain damage and how it may have impacted his mental health and behavior,” they said. “By releasing these findings, we hope to raise awareness of traumatic brain injury among military service members, and we encourage more research and support for military service members with traumatic brain injuries. Our hearts remain with the victims, survivors, and their families.”

Relatives said they would not comment further and would not be speaking to the media. Additional studies on Mr. Card’s brain are planned.

Mr. Card killed 18 people and injured others in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. He carried out the rampage, the deadliest in Maine history, at a bowling alley and restaurant.

Authorities found him dead after a manhunt. They said he committed suicide.

Concerns Reported

Family members of Mr. Card contacted local law enforcement months before the shooting, expressing concerns over what they described as his declining mental health. Fellow reservists also reported erratic behavior. “Our concern is that he’s either going to hurt himself or someone else,” one official said. Mr. Card was also hospitalized for two weeks.

Mr. Card told police in New York, where his unit trained in 2023, that fellow reservists reported him because “they’re scared ’cause I’m gonna [expletive] do something because I am capable.”

Army officials have said they worked to get Mr. Card treated and revoked his access to military weapons. They are set to testify Thursday to a commission convened to investigate the shooting and the actions leading up to it.

During earlier hearings, law enforcement officials said Maine’s so-called yellow flag law, which requires a series of steps before officers can remove guns from a person reported as dangerous, placed limitations on how they dealt with Mr. Card.

“I couldn’t get him to the door. I can’t make him open the door. I can’t kick in the door. If I had kicked in the door, that would’ve been a violation of law,” Sagadahoc County Sheriff Sgt. Aaron Skolfield testified.

After the attempted welfare check in September 2023, Mr. Skolfield said he received assurances from the family that it was removing his access to guns and that the Army suggested he let the situation “simmer.” He said he felt comfortable enough about the situation to go on vacation without assigning any fellow deputies to follow up on the matter.

People who survived the shooting told the commission that Mr. Card’s guns should have been taken away.

“The system failed everybody here,” Ben Dyer, who was shot five times, testified.

Mike Roderick, who was playing cornhole with his 18-year-old son when gunfire erupted, said that he hoped the commission “can figure who and where we dropped the ball and make sure that we learn from these horrible tragic mistakes, and share that information to teach others how to prevent this nightmare from ever happening again.”

Democrats in Maine are exploring changing the state’s gun laws, with one proposal outlining a 72-hour waiting period for most gun purchases and another that would enable officers to go directly to a judge to seek a protective custody warrant to take a dangerous person into custody to remove weapons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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