An Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office deputy blasted the Maine State Police as “utter clowns” for its response to the mass shooting that quickly became the deadliest this year.
In a since-deleted scathing Facebook post, seen by Bangor Daily News before it was taken down, Sgt Jon Guay aired his grievances with the inner workings of the law enforcement operation, which at one point consisted of hundreds of officers on the hunt for suspected shooter Robert Card.
He criticised the handling of the manhunt by state police’s top brass, saying he wouldn’t hire the state police’s crimes unit to “manage the morning rush at Dunkin Donuts much less an investigation of this size,” he wrote.
Sgt Guay also claimed local and federal agencies were met with “radio silence” during the manhunt as Maine State Police took the lead on the case. “Any substantial lead or investigatory discovery was held close to the vest and the only way the rest of us found out was from leaks within,” the blistering post stated.
Mr Guay said that his team worked alongside “heroes from the Lewiston Police Department who cleared buildings and literally loaded injured [victims] in cruisers” and transported them to the hospitals, and “to not include our local agencies in the information circle is insulting and one we will never forget.”
The frustrated sergeant explained that the response to last week’s attacks was unusual. Typically, Lewiston and Auburn police departments worked hand-in-hand with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, exchanging information instantaneously, but this time, “when Maine State Police showed up Wednesday night....all that stopped,” he wrote.
The deputy also slammed Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck and how the information — or lack thereof — was relayed to the public. He called Mr Sauschuck’s press conferences “a joke” that provided “little sense of comfort to anyone listening.”
“My complaints are not directed towards the individual troopers,” Sgt Guay clarified. “It’s those running the show that we are all frustrated with.”
Robert Card, was accused of opening fire at two local hotspots on 25 October and killing 18 people and injuring 13 others, before dying by apparent suicide. His body was found by Maine State Police two days after the attacks in a box trailer in the overflow lot of Maine Recycling Corporation, where he used to work.
His post ended by thanking every officer who worked on the intensive search. “The sea of blue lights and unending wail of sirens will stick with me forever. I’m sure our only regret is that we didn’t get to end it ourselves,” he wrote.
The criticism from the inside comes amid mounting public scrutiny over how police could have missed so many warning signs about Card. There have been at least six, by The Independent’s count, major ignored warnings that many have argued should have prevented Card from possessing weapons and perhaps could have stopped the mass shooting in its tracks.
These alarm bells that should have gone off include the family’s reports to law enforcement five months before the shooting, Card’s colleagues’ concerns about his mentioning of workplace gun violence, a 14-day stay at a mental health facility in July, and a statewide alert to law enforcement agencies acknowledging that Card was considered “armed and dangerous.”
When reporters demanded answers from Maine Gov Janet Mills about why so many potential red flags were ignored, she refused to answer the questions, instead saying that the investigation was still ongoing.