Maine’s governor creates panel to probe mass shooting

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(The Center Square) — Maine Gov. Janet Mills says she plans to create an independent commission to investigate the circumstances leading to last week’s mass shooting that killed 18 people and injured nearly a dozen.

The new commission will look at the days and months leading up to the shooting, including the gunman’s mental health, behavior and law enforcement’s response.

Mills said preliminary details have revealed that Card’s mental health and his behavior were brought to the attention of his Army National Reserve unit, as well as law enforcement agencies in Maine and New York.

“This raises crucial questions about actions taken and what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring,” she said in a statement.

Robert Card, the alleged gunman in last Wednesday’s attack, was found dead Friday from a self-inflicted gunshot two days after opening fire in a crowded bowling alley and a bar, killing 18. His family members had reportedly alerted local authorities that he was having mental health issues and was heavily armed.

“This – the complete facts and circumstances, including any failures – must be brought to light and known by all,” Mills said. “The families of the victims, those who were injured, those who are recovering, and the people of Maine and the nation deserve nothing less.”

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are scheduled to visit Lewiston on Friday, where they will pay respect to the victims and meet with families and first responders, according to the White House.

Biden is also expected to use the visit to reiterate his calls for Congress to pass legislation addressing gun violence and criticism of Republicans for blocking efforts to approve a new federal ‘assault weapons’ ban.

The shooting has revived a thorny debate about gun control in Maine, which has the nation’s lowest crime rate but also a long record of resisting firearm restrictions.

Mills, a Democrat, hasn’t committed to any changes in state laws in the wake of the worst mass shooting in the state’s history but has called for a “robust” conversation on gun control.

She issued a statement on Wednesday saying she “deeply” appreciates Biden’s “unwavering support” for the state “in the wake of last week’s horrific tragedy.”

“By visiting us in our time of need, the President and First Lady are making clear that the entire nation stands with Lewiston and with Maine — and for that I am profoundly grateful,” she said.

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