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How Maine shooting suspect's military background affects manhunt

Robert Card has been enlisted in the Army Reserves since 2002, which an expert says has allowed him to gain survival skills.
How Maine shooting suspect's military background affects manhunt
Posted at 9:13 AM, Oct 27, 2023

Robert Card, the man authorities believe is responsible for killing 18 people and wounding 13 during a shooting spree Wednesday in Lewiston, Maine, has remained at large since the shooting. 

While oftentimes following mass shootings, the suspect dies on the scene or is taken into custody right away, Wednesday's shooting is among a few notable examples of a suspect getting away. 

With Card's whereabouts unknown, Lt. Col. Gary Barthel said Card could use his military training for survival skills, saying, "He's probably using those to evade police."

Barthel said Card would have training on an M-16, which is a weapon similar to the AR-15 style rifle used in Wednesday's shootings.

"So what the police and law enforcement are going to do is they're going to slowly and surgically move into this circle and try and encapsulate an area so that they can locate him, and the intelligence that they receive is ongoing," Barthel said. "But the fact that he has marksmanship training with an M-16 where he learns to shoot at 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards. This definitely poses a severe risk to law enforcement as well as to the public."

SEE MORE: Maine community on edge as they shelter in place after shooting

While the manhunt has upended life in southern Maine this week as schools and businesses remain closed, there are questions about how quickly law enforcement can act on getting Card. 

"Law enforcement has to proceed cautiously. They have to have a plan and as they execute this plan and if they're getting closer to him, it's going to make him move," Barthel said. "And so, it is a waiting game, but it's also sort of a process that they have to go through to surgically execute this manhunt."

Maine State Police said that Card reported "hearing voices" and threatened to carry out a mass shooting. It's the kind of warning signs that red and yellow flag laws are meant to intercept. 

"The big issue that I'm struggling with that I think needs to be answered is, did the army do their due diligence in notifying the appropriate federal and civilian law enforcement agencies of, you know, the mental problems that he was experiencing at that time? Barthel said. "I haven't seen anything come out on that yet, but the Army does have an obligation not only to order him into a mental health hospital, but they also have an obligation to protect the public."

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