Healing Together and Knowing the Facts

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Well, like people all across Maine and across the nation, I am so deeply saddened by last week’s tragedy in Lewiston. Lewiston did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No city does. No state. No people.

I know Lewiston. I lived there, I worked there for fifteen years. I met and married my husband Stan there and it’s where the girls went to school. I love Lewiston, just as I love our whole state with my whole heart.

Right now, my Administration is focusing on making sure that the families of victims, those who are recovering, and those struggling in Lewiston and throughout the state, are fully supported during this difficult time.

Many people are asking how they can help as we begin the long process of healing.

So, we’ve launched an online resource called “Healing Together.” “Healing Together” identifies those places that are accepting financial donations – legitimate places – to support victims, families, first responders, and responding organizations. That website also contains information about mental health resources for any people who may be struggling.

“Healing Together” is available Maine.gov/governor/mills. That’s Maine.gov/governor/mills.

Coming together to love, comfort, and support each other is critical right now.

Another cornerstone of our ability to heal is to know the truth – in this case, it means knowing the facts of what happened on that tragic night, of the months that led up to it, and of the police response to it.

Knowing the full truth is not a quick and easy thing. And it’s important to recognize though, that from what we know so far, on a number of occasions over the last ten months, concerns about Mr. Card’s mental health and his behavior were brought to the attention of his Army Reserve Unit, as well as law enforcement agencies here in Maine and in New York. That fact raises crucial questions about actions taken and what more might have been done to prevent this tragedy from occurring.

I know that the Maine State Police are working hard to conduct a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation of the shooting, but I also believe that the gravity of this attack on our people – an attack that strikes at the core of who we are and the values that we hold dear – that it demands a higher level of scrutiny.

So right now, I’m working with the Attorney General to formally establish a fully independent commission, whose charge will be to determine the facts surrounding the tragedy in Lewiston on October 25th, including the time that led up to it and the police response to it.

This commission will be comprised of independent experts with legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds who can bring to bear their experiences and expertise in impartially determining and laying out the full facts. I hope to formally announce this commission and its membership next week so that it may conduct itself with a due sense of urgency, and above all else, follow the facts wherever they may lead.

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

Maine people have been feeling a range of emotions this past week, from shock and sadness to anxiety and fear to grief and anger. I myself have felt many of these emotions, and I am sure we’ll all feel these things in the coming days and weeks. And I want you to know this: if you feel this way, it’s okay.

Please remember if you need support, you can text or call 9-8-8 for free and confidential mental health advice counseling, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

This is Governor Janet Mills – please keep the faith, stay strong—and thank you for listening.