Lewiston Police Chief David St. Pierre addresses the media during an Oct. 27 news conference about the mass shooting and manhunt for suspect Robert Card. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The commission investigating the Lewiston mass shooting will hear testimony from members of the Lewiston and Lisbon police departments Thursday afternoon.

The meeting, a late addition to the commission’s calendar, will mark the fourth time the body has convened in public since its formation last fall. The group has been tasked with gathering facts about what led to the Oct. 25 mass shooting that left 18 dead and 13 injured and the subsequent police response, which included a massive 48-hour manhunt for shooter Robert Card. The commission, which the governor set up to operate outside of public meeting laws, also has held some private meetings.

On Jan. 25, members of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office appeared in front of the commission to explain why they didn’t detain Card despite receiving warnings about his failing mental health and access to weapons in May and September. Sheriff Joel Merry and several deputies defended the department’s response and pointed to limitations in Maine’s protective custody and yellow flag statutes as reasons why they did not secure Card’s guns, but some commission members appeared skeptical that other options were unavailable.

Last week, family members of several shooting victims testified about their loved ones. Many praised the victim witness advocates who have worked to support them since the shootings, but they expressed frustration with communication breakdowns that made it difficult to get information during the night of the shooting – especially for members of the Deaf community.

Thursday’s meeting, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Randall Student Center at the University of Maine at Augusta and be streamed online, will likely focus on the initial police response to the shooting. Lewiston officers arrived at Just-In-Time Recreation just minutes after 911 calls began flooding in reporting a mass shooting. But Card was already gone, and soon police were racing across town to the second shooting location at Schemengees Bar & Grille.

Card’s abandoned vehicle was found later that night at a Lisbon boat launch. Maine State Police leaders have said they were responsible for the decision to not deploy a K-9 unit on the night of the shooting to track the shooter from his vehicle to the nearby parking lot where his body was eventually found two days later. It remains unclear exactly what role Lisbon police played in the search that night.

Since offering some initial details about their search for Card in October, Maine State Police have largely been tight-lipped about the specifics of their role in the hunt. Agency leaders are scheduled to testify before the commission on Feb. 15 at 9 a.m.

The commission also is seeking to interview members of the U.S. Army about steps they did or did not take to get Card help and to keep him away from weapons after he began demonstrating erratic behavior. The Army, which is conducting its own investigation into Card, has not accepted the invitation; lawmakers in Augusta appear to be moving toward granting the commission at least limited subpoena power, which would allow them to compel witnesses to testify.

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