Oct. 26—BOWDOIN — Robert R. Card II is a skilled marksman and certified firearms instructor who was known as one of the best shooters in his Army Reserves unit.
On Wednesday night, authorities say the Bowdoin man gunned down dozens of people at two Lewiston businesses, killing 18 and wounding 13.
The deadly shootings at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar & Grille do not appear to be random. Several months ago at Schemengees, Card actively competed in a cornhole club there. And in a photo provided to the press, he has a slight smile as he poses after competing at a tournament to raise money for breast cancer treatment.
But at Schemengees and the bowling alley, known better by its former name of Sparetime Recreation, Card was hearing voices.
That's according to a police bulletin sent to law enforcement and an interview with his sister-in-law.
In an interview Thursday with the Daily Beast, Card's sister-in-law said he's had acute episodes of mental health struggles over the past year. Card began wearing powerful hearing aids but began hearing things like people "bashing" him, including at the bowling alley and Schemengees bar, and he would "get mad" when he was told the voices were just in his head, according to that interview.
Card graduated from Mount Ararat High School in Topsham in 2001. He studied engineering at the University of Maine from 2001 to 2004 but did not graduate.
He was licensed as an electrician's helper from 2004 to 2006, with no disciplinary action on his record. It appears his father, Robert R. Card of Bowdoin, was a master electrician, licensed from 1998 to 2024.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army on Thursday confirmed Card's military status. The spokesman, Bryce Dubee, said that Card's rank in the Army Reserve is Sgt. 1st Class, and that he's a petroleum supply specialist who enlisted in December 2002 and has not been deployed in combat.
Dubee said Card has received awards for his service, including the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.
A former Army Reserve colleague of Card's told CNN that he is a skilled marksman and outdoorsman who was among the best shooters in his Army Reserve unit.
Military commanders in the Army Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, said they observed Card acting erratically while the unit was training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. Card was taken to the Keller Army Community Hospital there.
Card was taken by police to be evaluated following erratic behavior in July, according to The Associated Press, which spoke to a U.S. official who wished to remain anonymous.
The police bulletin sent to law enforcement after the shootings in Lewiston noted that Card had been in a mental health facility for two weeks this summer, and that he had reported "hearing voices and threats to shoot up" the military base. No information was provided about Card's treatment or diagnosis.
Sagadahoc County court documents indicate Card has an 18-year-old son with a woman he divorced in 2007, with the couple having shared parental responsibilities and rights. The divorce was granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. At the time, Card had a 941 Meadow Road address in Bowdoin, where there was a heavy police presence Thursday.
Paperwork filed in 2010 as part of an amendment to the divorce judgement indicate Card sought and received a continuance of the divorce amendment case for a week in March of 2010 so he could report for five days of annual duty, in Fort Devens, Massachusetts.
A 2013 additional amendment to the divorce judgement ordered that "all weapons in either party's home shall be under lock and key at all times during which they are not being used."
Card's criminal record in Maine shows just one prior offense: a misdemeanor charge of operating under the influence in Topsham in 2007. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, and issued a $500 fine, which he paid.
While some family and friends said in interviews Thursday that Card was generally a nice guy who didn't exhibit any concerning behavior before this past year, at least one former acquaintance was worried about Card and his family many years ago.
Rick Goddard, who lives across the street from the Cards, said they're a hard-working farming family. He had not seen Robert Card II for 20 years, until last year when he was deer hunting on their property. Two weeks ago, Goddard said, he recalls the younger Card was helping his father hay the field across from Goddard's house.
"We've never seen anything like this here," Goddard said.
Liam Kent, in an interview with NBC News Thursday, said he grew up about a half-mile away from Card's family "compound" in Bowdoin. The family and Robert Card "are all gun fanatics and for all intents and purposes, are very much associated with right wing militias," Kent said. "It's known in the town to stay away from them, to not approach them. If you see them, you just turn around and walk away."
"They would shoot guns all the time," he added. "You could hear a gun every day after school; it was like clockwork."
At the corner of West Road and Wood Schoolhouse Road in Bowdoin, police from several different agencies were on the scene Thursday morning, directing traffic away from the area and sending people back in the direction they came.
Public records indicate one or more of the nearby properties belong to Card or his parents.
Around 11 a.m., police could be heard over a bullhorn ordering people out of a home several times.
Along West Road, where homes sit on large, heavily wooded lots, residents said they knew of Card but not well, and they declined to be quoted for comment.
This story to be updated.
Kennebec Journal staff writers Jessica Lowell and Keith Edwards, and Portland Press Herald staff writers Emily Allen, Drew Bonifant and John Terhune contributed to this report.