The gunman who fatally shot 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday attempted to buy a silencer three months before the mass shooting, but his request was declined by the gun shop owner.
Robert Card, 40, was denied an attempt to purchase the silencer in the neighboring city of Auburn when he disclosed on a form that he had mental health issues, The New York Times reported.
Card had entered the Coastal Defense Firearms store in Auburn on Aug. 5, according to the newspaper. Shop owner Rick LaChappelle said that Card had bought the silencer at another store’s online site, which sent it to his business to be picked up.
ABC News was the first news outlet to report about Card’s purchase attempt.
Card was found dead on Friday, two days after the shooting.
“He came in and filled out the form, he checked off a box that incriminated himself saying that he was in an institution,” LaChapelle told ABC News on Saturday. “Our staff was fantastic, let him finish filling out the form, and said, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Card, we cannot give you this ... at this point in time, we cannot release this silencer to you because of the answers that you’ve given us.
“We did what we were supposed to do and hopefully saved a lot of lives by the proper, just following the proper procedures.”
The paperwork that caused LaChappelle to deny Card the silencer was Form 4473, the Times reported It is a federal document that must be filled out and signed in order to retrieve guns and firearms equipment like a silencer, according to the newspaper.
It is used to determine whether a person can complete the purchase, the Times reported.
LaChappelle said the form contained a question, “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”
Card checked the box, indicating yes, according to the newspaper.
LaChappelle said that Card was “very cordial, very polite,” the Times reported.
“He says, ‘Not a problem. OK, let me have my attorney look at it, and I’ll just come back and get it later on,’” LaChapelle told the newspaper. “Then he left the store and never came back.”
LaChapelle, who is also a city councilor in Lewiston, said he believes the death toll and injuries on Wednesday in the largest mass shooting in state history might have been higher because people at the bowling alley and restaurant-bar where Card fired his weapon would not have heard his rifle fire, the Times reported.
“He could have spent more time in each location,” LaChapelle told ABC News, adding that he was speaking as a business owner and not as a city councilor. “And it could have been more methodical, and my heart goes out to the people, the victims. This is just absolutely horrible, horrible. I’m frustrated that, I think, some of this could have been averted.”