New Data Reveals That Maine Mass Shooter Robert Card Suffered From TBIs

( – Last October, in Lewiston, Maine, Army Reservist Robert Card allegedly opened fire and killed 18 people. The shootings sparked a massive manhunt. The suspect was found dead from a self-inflicted wound two days after the tragic events. Speculation ran rampant about the motives behind Card’s decision to open fire at a bowling alley and bar. Now, research is pointing to the suspect having traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

TBIs are secondary brain injuries caused by reactive processes that take place after a person suffers head trauma. After his death, at the request of the Main Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, Card’s family had his brain sent to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center for analysis. The findings, which were released with the permission of his family, noted that there was significant evidence of TBIs. Some of those injuries included degeneration in nerve fibers responsible for communication between different areas of the brain. There was also evidence of a small blood vessel injury.

Dr. Ann McKee, who conducted the analysis, said the findings in Card’s brain “align with [the center’s] previous studies on the effects of blast injury in humans and experimental models.” This is notable because Card worked at a training range where he was exposed to a multitude of low-level blasts from hand grenades.

McKee was quick to note that she couldn’t say with certainty that his job contributed to the “behavioral changes” Card experienced “in the last 10 months of life,” she did say she was confident the TBIs “played a role in his symptoms.” She also said there was no evidence he had CTE, the disease many football players and others develop after repeated concussions.

The alleged shooter’s family spoke with police in the months before he went on the rampage, saying they were concerned about both his behavior and access to guns. His family released a statement along with the analysis, apologizing to the victims, their families, and the survivors. They said the analysis does not excuse his actions, but they want to use the experience to raise awareness of TBIs among military members.

The analysis came in a timely fashion, as Army officials are set to appear at a hearing held by a special commission that is investigating the shootings.

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