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The family of an Army Reserve member accused of a deadly shooting rampage in Lewiston, Maine, warned police and military officials that he was experiencing an "acute" mental health

Friday, 27 October 2023 12:15 News

The family of an Army Reserve member accused of a deadly shooting rampage in Lewiston, Maine, warned police and military officials that he was experiencing an "acute" mental health episode before the Wednesday night massacre, according to his fiancée.

Robert Card, a 40-year-old firearms instructor and longtime Army Reserve member, began hearing voices saying "horrible" things about him a couple of months ago when he was fitted with powerful hearing aids, said Katie Card, who is married to his brother.

"He was picking up voices he'd never heard before," she told NBC News. "His mind twisted them. He was humiliated by what he believed was being said."

Katie Card said the family did everything they could to convince Robert Card that the comments weren't real, including checking with some of the people he claimed were making the remarks.

But, she said, "It turned into a manic belief."

"He was just firmly convinced that everyone suddenly turned against him," she said.

Robert Card, who remained at large on Thursday, is accused of killing at least 18 people and injuring many others at a bar and bowling alley, police said.

His fiancée said the family reached out to police and his Army Reserve base because over the past couple of months they "became increasingly concerned."

"We just reached out to make sure everyone was on the same page because he's the one who does the firearm handling training," she said. "We were concerned about his mental state. That's it."

According to Katie Card, her husband "went back and forth" in the Army.

"They were monitoring it, too, but we never thought he'd actually do something," she said.

The Army confirmed Robert Card's status in the Reserve but didn't directly address the family's assertion that loved ones shared their concerns before the rampage.

Two high-ranking law enforcement officials said commanders in Card's units sent him for psychiatric treatment earlier this summer after becoming alarmed by threats he made against the base and statements that he heard voices.

Card spent about two weeks in inpatient psychiatric treatment and was released, officials said. It is unclear what further steps were taken.

A Defense Department spokesperson said Card's unit reached out to law enforcement in July after he began behaving erratically. New York State Police responded and transported him to the Keller Army Community Hospital at the U.S. Military Academy for a medical evaluation.

In a statement, Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee said there were no records indicating that Card instructed or participated in any training while his unit supported summer training at West Point in July.

The Army did not train him as a firearms instructor, and he did not serve in that capacity, Dubee said.

"We take such matters very seriously, and our paramount responsibility is ensuring that all legal and appropriate actions are taken in accordance with our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of conduct among our soldiers and civilian employees," he said.

Katie Card declined to discuss whether the family tried to restrict his access to firearms.

When police officers traveled to Maine to assist in the manhunt, a note with an order was found during a search of Robert Card's home, four high-ranking law enforcement officials said. Investigators are trying to determine the meaning of the note and how it may help in their probe.

The weapon believed to have been used in the attack was a .308-caliber sniper rifle purchased legally earlier this year, officials said.

Robert Card was assigned to the Army Reserve in December 2002 and had not seen combat. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, in Saco, Maine.

His fiancée said he had a significant hearing loss, most likely from being in the vicinity of constant artillery fire.

She said the family constantly wrote him messages saying they loved him and that he needed to "do right," but they never heard back.

Katie Card described her brother-in-law as a "wonderful person" and a great father to his son, who had just graduated from high school. She said the change in his behavior was sudden and that he hadn't had previous mental health issues.

"We don't know this person. This isn't him," she said. "We're so sorry he hurt others."

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