Mass shooter Robert Card was turned away by a Maine gun store when he tried to buy a silencer for his assault rifle months before he went on a rampage at a bowling alley and bar — a move that likely saved countless lives.
Card, 40, went to Coastal Defense Firearms in Auburn on Aug. 5 to pick up the accessory he ordered online, but was turned away when employees learned of his mental history, ABC News reported.
“He went in and filled out the form. He checked a box that incriminated himself for being in an institution,” store owner Rick Lachapelle told the outlet.
“Our staff was fantastic. She let him finish filling out the form and said, “I’m sorry Mr. Card, we can’t give you that.”
LaChapelle said officers explained to the shooter that the information he provided would prevent them from selling him the accessory for his gun.
“We are unable to provide you with this silencer at this time due to the answers you have given us,” the store owner said he was told.
“We did what we had to do and hopefully we saved a lot of lives by doing the right thing, just following the right procedures.”
Card, a US Army reservist and marksmanship expert, spent two weeks in a psychiatric facility in July after making strange threats while training at Camp Smith near the US military academy at West Point.
On Wednesday, he burst into Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, and opened fire with an assault rifle — and minutes later shot patrons at the nearby Schemengee Bar and Grill.
Authorities launched a massive manhunt for the crazed gunman, which ended Friday when he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.
Lachapelle, who is also president of the Lewiston City Council, said the bloodbath could have been much worse if Card had been able to buy the silencer because the survivors would not have been alerted by the sound of the gunfire and would not have sought cover .
“He could have spent more time in each place,” he said. “And it could have been more methodical and my heart goes out to the people, the victims. This is just awful. Terrible.”
LaChappelle said Card had already purchased the silencer online and had it delivered to his store for pickup — but he had to fill out a federal form that included a question about his mental health history.
“Have you ever been adjudged mentally defective or have you ever been committed to a mental institution,” reads one query on the form. Card marked it with an “X” next to “yes,” ABC said.
A clerk at the store said Card was a police officer and was “very cooperative” when he got the news and just left.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to comment.