Gunman’s Brain Sent to Lab for Analysis

( – On October 22, US Army Reserves Sergeant First Class Robert Card shot and killed 18 people and injured several others during a shooting spree in Lewiston, Maine. A few days later, law enforcement officials found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The investigation revealed that he had exhibited paranoid, delusional, and potentially violent behaviors. That information prompted medical officials to take action to discover the source of his unusual conduct.

On December 11, The Associated Press published an article detailing the decision by Maine’s head medical examiner (ME) to submit a tissue sample from 40-year-old Card’s brain to a Massachusetts laboratory. Medical officials at the lab have been asked to examine that material for any evidence that a brain injury or trauma related to the mass shooter’s military service could have contributed to his disturbing behavior before and during his October shooting.

Lindsey Chasteen, a spokesperson from the ME’s office, confirmed the transfer of the brain tissue to Massachusetts. He also indicated that officials decided to take that unusual step out of an abundance of caution related to Card’s “combined history of military experience” and his recent actions.

Chasteen said the public is typically “left with more questions than answers” after a traumatic and deadly event. He explained that the ME’s office believed that conducting the additional testing could “shed light” on the circumstances and possible motivations behind the mass shooting, and they had a “responsibility” to outsource further examination of Card’s brain tissue.

Officials with the Maine ME’s Office weren’t the only ones asking questions about possible injuries sustained during Card’s service in the Army Reserves. For example, media outlets claim that he had reported experiencing inexplicable mental health issues like hearing voices shortly before his shooting spree. He also threatened to shoot up a military base.

Military officials reported Card’s erratic behaviors to local law enforcement officials, who subsequently transported him to a nearby hospital for “medical evaluation.”

Concerned about those reports, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) sent a letter to the US Army’s Inspector General’s Office seeking information about Card’s troubling behaviors. They also asked about a decision by base command staff to restrict his participation in live-fire exercises and block his access to firearms and ammunition.

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