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Lewiston shooter Robert Card likely had a traumatic brain injury, forensic analysis finds

Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.
Robert F. Bukaty
Police respond to an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

A forensic analysis has found evidence that the man responsible for killing 18 people in Lewiston last October was likely suffering from a traumatic brain injury. That may have played a role in his actions.

Researchers found significant degeneration, inflammation and small blood vessel injury in the brain of Robert Card but no evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center which performed the analysis, said she could not say for certain that the findings underlie Card's behavioral changes in the last ten months of his life...but she said "brain injury likely played a role in his symptoms."

Family members and fellow Army reservists had reported that Card was hearing voices and acting erratically in the months prior to the mass shooting. He killed himself two days after he carried out the attacks.

Card had been a hand grenade instructor in the Army Reserves and may have been exposed to thousands of low-level blasts. Traumatic brain injury has been linked to personality And McKee said the CTE center's findings align with previous studies on the effects of blast injury in humans.

In allowing for the release of the analysis, Card's family expressed sympathy for the shooting victims and their families for the first time.

"We are hurting for you and with you, and it is hard to put into words how badly we wish we could undo what happened," the statement says.

“We know it does not fully explain Robert’s actions, nor is it an excuse for the horrific suffering he caused, but we thank Dr. McKee for helping us understand his brain damage and how it may have impacted his mental health and behavior."

The family goes on to say that they hope raise awareness of traumatic brain injury among military service members and encourage more research.