The suspected shooter who killed 18 people across two sites on Wednesday spent time in a mental health facility over a breakdown earlier this summer, according to police and family.
The suspect, who has been charged with multiple counts of murder related to the shootings and is still on the loose, experienced episodes where he heard voices that weren’t there. He spent two weeks this summer committed to a facility. He is also accused of threatening to shoot up a National Guard facility, according to a bulletin from the Maine Information and Analysis Center reported by multiple local and national outlets.
“According to law enforcement, Card recently reported mental health issues to include hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, ME,” the police bulletin reads. “Card was also reported to have been committed to mental health facility for two weeks during summer 2023 and subsequently released.”
Police said during a Thursday morning press conference that the suspect remained on the loose as several of his victims fought for their lives at area hospitals. Officials didn’t provide any further details on his background of the alleged threats and commitment during the briefing. However, the suspect’s sister-in-law, Katie Card, told The Daily Beast he had been hearing voices that weren’t real in recent weeks.
“He truly believed he was hearing people say things,” she told the publication. “This all just happened within the last few months.”
Federal law makes it illegal for anyone who has been involuntarily committed as a threat to themselves or others to own or even possess firearms. The initial reports raise questions about how he obtained or, possibly, retained the rifle he used in the killings. Law enforcement officials acknowledged the importance of those questions at the Thursday briefing but said they didn’t yet have answers and were primarily focused on apprehending the suspect at this point.
Katie Card claimed the suspect had been stable throughout his life until the past year. She said his mental state began to deteriorate, and he claimed to hear people insulting him when that wasn’t the case. She said that included incidents at Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar, where the shootings occurred on Wednesday.
“We tried to listen to him and tell him that nobody was talking about him,” she said. “Yesterday, as the story was unfolding, we prayed that Rob had nothing to do with this. But when we heard the two places where the shooting happened, my husband rushed home.”
The suspect is believed to be both armed and well-trained. Police cautioned the public nearby where the shootings occurred to remain inside their homes and call 911 if they spot anything suspicious. The Maine Information and Analysis Center also warned officers to be careful if they encounter Card.
“The subject should be considered armed and dangerous,” the bulletin said. “Caution should be used if contact is made with Card or the vehicle.”
UPDATE 10-27-2023 1:17 PM EASTERN: Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee told ABC News on Thursday night that the suspect was not a military firearms instructor as the Main Information and Analysis Center initially claimed. This piece has been updated to reflect the new statement.