AUGUSTA, Maine — An independent commission investigating the mass shooting that killed 18 people in Maine last month requested a subpoena Monday to obtain the shooter’s military service records.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey charged the commission with conducting a review of the events leading up to and the response to the Lewiston shooting. Reservist Robert Card, 40, killed 18 people at a bowling alley and restaurant on October 25 before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The commission held its first meeting Monday and members voted unanimously to request subpoena power from the Maine Legislature.
“We will seek military records, and those may not be available to us without subpoena power,” said Toby Dilworth, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maine and a member of the commission. “It’s critical that we have this subpoena power.”
The commission is chaired by Daniel Wathen, former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Other members include Debra Baeder, the state’s former chief forensic psychologist, and Paula Silsby, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Maine.
The committee should investigate possible missed opportunities to prevent shootings. Card was well known to law enforcement and his military colleagues had raised alarms about his behavior, mental health and potential for violence before the shooting. Card spent two weeks in a New York psychiatric hospital last summer after an altercation with other reservists.
Mills and Frey quickly issued a statement supporting the decision to use the subpoena power. Mills, who created the commission by executive order, called on the commission to follow the facts of the case and keep them as transparent as possible to the public.
Mills and Frey said in their statement that they would “immediately begin consulting with the Independent Commission and legislative leaders to prepare legislation granting the commission subpoena power, with the goal of preparing this legislation for consideration by the Legislative Assembly at the start of the next session. .”
The commission will meet again on Dec. 14, Wathen said. He said his goal was for the commission to produce a written report within six months, a deadline he called “very ambitious, but highly desirable for obvious reasons.”
The commission also took public comments Monday. Rep. Suzanne Salisbury, a Westbrook Democrat, called on the commission to work with law enforcement in its review.
“I hope the voice of law enforcement can be heard and used as experts,” Salisbury said.