Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Local Cops Aren't Prepared for This Kind of Bloodshed

| Nov. 05, 2023

Instead of addressing lax gun laws, Americans fixate on what the authorities might have done differently.

After the devastating mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, late last month, an all-too-familiar ritual began to play out: The initial horror over the deaths of 18 victims gave way to second-guessing about what more local authorities might have done.

The gunman, Robert Card, went on a rampage at a bar and at a bowling alley. He crossed town without any police intervention, abandoned his car, and disappeared for days, until he was found dead of a self-inflicted wound. Later, the public discovered that Card was known to law enforcement. His behavior in the weeks before the shooting had alarmed those around him, including his family members and Army Reserves colleagues. In a report filed after an attempted wellness check at his home weeks earlier, a Sagadahoc County sheriff's deputy noted that one reservist was concerned that Card was "going to snap and commit a mass shooting."

News that authorities had tried and failed to make contact with the gunman raised the possibility that, had they only succeeded, the horrific crimes might never have happened. "Police Were Told Maine Gunman Had Threatened to Carry Out Shooting Spree," one headline declared. "Deputies Were Warned Robert Card Had Guns, Threatened a Shooting, Was 'Going to Snap,'" another said. Maine Governor Janet Mills announced on Wednesday that she will create an independent commission to ascertain, as she put it in a statement, "what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring." The Maine State Police are conducting a separate "after-action review."...

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For Academic Citation: Kayyem, Juliette.“Local Cops Aren't Prepared for This Kind of Bloodshed.” The Atlantic, November 5, 2023.

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