AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — An independent commission investigating the mass shooting that killed 18 people in Maine last month moved Monday to seek subpoena power so it can obtain the military service records of the shooter.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey have tasked the commission with performing a review of the events leading up to the Lewiston shootings and the response to it. Army reservist Robert Card, 40, killed 18 people in a bowling alley and a restaurant on Oct. 25 before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The commission held its first meeting on Monday and members unanimously voted to request subpoena power from the Maine Legislature.
“We will be seeking military records, and those might not be accessible to us without subpoena power,” said Toby Dilworth, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maine and a commission member. “It’s essential 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 former chief forensic psychologist for the state, and Paula Silsby, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Maine.
The panel is expected to investigate potential missed opportunities to prevent the shootings. Card was well known to law enforcement and fellow service members had raised flags about his behavior, mental health state and potential for violence before the shootings. Card spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital in New York last summer after an altercation with other reserve members.
Mills and Frey swiftly released a statement that they supported the move to use subpoena power. Mills, who created the commission via executive order, has called on the commission to follow the facts of the case and keep them as transparent to the public as possible.
Mills and Frey said in their statement they would “immediately begin consulting with the Independent Commission and legislative leadership to prepare legislation granting the commission the power of subpoena, with the goal of having that legislation prepared for the Legislature’s consideration at the beginning 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, which was a timeline he called “a very ambitious goal, but highly desirable for obvious reasons.”
The commission also took comments from the public on Monday. Rep. Suzanne Salisbury, a Westbrook Democrat, called on the commission to collaborate with law enforcement as it performs its review.
“I hope that law enforcement’s voice can be heard and used as the experts they are,” Salisbury said.
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