‘Drunk’ cops and armored vehicles nearly crashing: Damning report details ‘utter chaos’ at Maine mass shooting

Officers who turned up to assist with the unfolding mass shooting incident in Lewiston, Maine, allegedly smelled of alcohol and almost crashed their armored vehicle into other emergency responders, according to a damning incident report.

The scene was described as “utter chaos” with some officers arriving in civilian clothes from a funeral, running the risk of being mistaken for the gunman, according to the after action report from the Portland Police Department.

Eighteen people were left dead and 13 more were injured after 40-year-old Robert Card, a Sgt 1st class in the Army Reserve, went on a rampage in the town last October. His body was later found close to the scene after a 48-hour manhunt.

The incident, which took place in several locations including a bowling alley and a local bar and grill restaurant was the state’s deadliest ever shooting.

A new report, obtained by the Associated Press, described how officers rushed to secure the scene following initial reports of the attack. Tactical team leader Nicholas Goodman said in the report that the officers who showed up without any orders risked doing more harm than good.

In a new report, the scene in Lewiston, Maine, was described as ‘utter chaos’ with some officials arriving in civilian clothes from a funeral (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Goodman said that a second tactical team that was also responding to the incident, and traveling from Cumberland County, nearly crashed their vehicle into his.

“It locked up its brakes and came to an abrupt halt with the tires making a noise a large 18-wheeler makes when it stops abruptly while carrying a copious amount of weight,” he wrote. “I’d estimate the armored car came within 20-30 feet of striking our armored car and most likely killing a number of us.”

Mr Goodman added that “the aroma of intoxicants” was wafting from the armored vehicle. Its occupants later told him they had come to the scene from a funeral.

Eighteen people were left dead and 13 more were injured after 40-year-old Robert Card, a Sgt 1st class in the Army Reserve, went on a rampage in the town (Lewiston Police Department)

Tactical vehicles used by the Cumberland Sheriff’s Office and Portland police apparently were not aware of each other’s presence, the nine-page report added.

In addition, it suggested a number of “self-dispatching” officers had arrived to help in plain clothes — “similar clothing to the suspect” — had created a dangerous situation in which officers could have exchanged fire with each other in the dark wooded area.

“I have never seen the amount of self-dispatching, federal involvement with plain clothes and utter chaos with self-dispatching in my career,” Mr Goodman wrote in the report.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in an earlier statement that an internal investigation had cleared his officers and that no one was determined to be intoxicated at the scene. He said any report of intoxicated officers should have been raised at the time, not six months afterwards.

Community members look at a memorial outside Schemengees Bar & Grille about one week after a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Daniel Wathen, the chairperson of an independent commission investigating the shooting, said the allegations included in the report were “disturbing” and that some, including those of intoxicated officers, were outside the scope of the panel.

The commission previously heard testimony from law enforcement officials about the chaotic hours after the shooting in which agencies mobilized for a search and police officers poured into the region.

The panel is set to reconvene on Friday to hear about communications and coordination problems from witnesses.

The Associated Press contributed to his report.

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