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Lewiston mass shooting survivor and families call for independent investigation of attacks

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree meets with survivors of the Lewiston mass shooting in Washington Thursday.
Pingree Press Office
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree meets with survivors of the Lewiston mass shooting in Washington Thursday.

Lewiston mass shooting survivor Alan Nickerson and the families of victims Arthur Strout, Joe Walker and Joshua Seal met with Maine's congressional delegation in Washington on Thursday.

They want the Army Inspector General to determine why Robert Card was released from a psychiatric hospital last summer after threatening fellow National Guard members at a training in New York, and why no laws were triggered that could have led to the seizure of his personal weapons before he gunned down 18 people in October.

"There were so many red flags in all of this. We have to know why these things can slip through the cracks the way they do and cause so much pain," said Arthur Barnard, Strout's father.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the families deserve to know why the attack wasn't prevented.

"It appears to be evident that the Army should have triggered either New York's red flag law or Maine's yellow flag law, which would have resulted in Robert Card losing access to all of his weapons," she said.

Police say Card threatened to "shoot up" the Saco Army National Guard base before the Lewiston attacks. He was never apprehended.

Leroy Walker, father of victim Joe Walker, says both the military and law enforcement failed the victims and their families.

"They missed it in the county. They missed it in the local. They missed it in the military. It's time everyone sticks together and it isn't some weak law that's put in place. Someone has to enforce these laws and make sure this doesn't happen again," Leroy Walker said.

Victims' attorneys said the Army did its own internal probe but that an independent investigation is needed to determine the facts with transparency and objectivity.

Elizabeth Seal, widow of Joshua Seal, explained through an American Sign Language interpreter that the lack of information has taken a toll on the deaf community, and healing can only begin with the truth.

"We can't start our healing journey until we have all the information. Today, I feel like we've gotten support for that IG investigation. For that I am grateful. But I want to see action. Words are just words. I want them to see it through," Elizabeth Seal said.

Collins said she has already requested an Army Inspector General to investigate military system failures before the shooting.

The survivor and families also met with U.S. Sen. Angus King, U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree and the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.