Canada’s Worst Mass Shooting Leaves At Least 16 Dead
Apr 20, 2020, 9:31 AM | Updated: 9:32 am
(CNN) — Nova Scotia authorities have begun investigating the shooting of a gunman who may have been disguised as a police officer and went on 12-hour rampage that left 16 people dead in a small town.
A confrontation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began after a manhunt for the fleeing suspect overnight Saturday. Multiple crime scenes and hours of evasion later, the gunman was killed Sunday in a shootout with police. Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team took over the investigation into the death, according to a SIRT statement.
Gabriel Wortman, 51, was identified as the suspect and was confirmed dead by RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather.
The motive behind the shooting, one of Canada’s deadliest, is still under investigation, Leather said. Some victims, he said, “appeared not to have a relationship with the assailant shooter.”
The chaos began when police were first called to a property around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Portapique, a seaside town about an hour and a half’s drive north of Halifax. “When police arrived at the scene the members located several casualties inside and outside of the home,” Leather said.
One of those killed was Constable Heidi Stevenson. Another officer is in the hospital receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries he suffered in the incident, the RCMP said on Facebook.
“It is with tremendous sadness that I share with you that we lost Cst. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the Force who was killed this morning,” said Lee Bergerman, the RCMP’s commanding officer in Nova Scotia. “I met with Heidi’s family, and there are no words to describe their pain. Two children have lost their mother and a husband his wife. Parents lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.”
RCMP were led to several crime scenes miles apart beginning in Portapique and stretching about 60 miles to Enfield, where the suspect was found, Leather said.
The gunman may have been wearing a RCMP uniform and driving a car that appeared to be a police vehicle but had a specific number — 28B11.
Police first asked the public to be on the lookout for the vehicle in Debert, 15 miles east of Portapique, on Sunday morning. Later, he was seen in Central Onslow, then south in Brookfield, where police updated the suspect’s vehicle description to a silver Chevy Tracker.
“The fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” Leather said.
Wortman was not employed by the RCMP, authorities said.
The gunman was considered armed and dangerous, and RCMP told people to stay indoors. The suspect was later seen south of Brookfield, in Milford, and was ultimately found at a truck stop in Enfield between 11 a.m. and noon Sunday, about 12 hours after the initial 911 call came in to police.
Ontario truck driver Tom Nurani told CNN media partner CTV News that he was at the truck stop when he heard a staff member shouting.
“She goes, ‘Oh my God, lock the doors! He’s here!’ And I peek out of the window and I saw some RCMP vehicles and there was four or five uniforms with guns,” Nurani said.
Witness Glen Hines was driving past and told CTV he heard gunfire.
“All I could hear was gunshots and my wife. I thought I was going to call 911 because she was going into panic, it scared her so bad,” Hines said.
Politicians respond to shooting rampage
Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia, called the shooting spree “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history.”
“I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia,” McNeil said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted “our hearts go out to everyone affected by the shooting,” adding “we’re keeping all of you in our thoughts.”
“To the Portapique community, we’re keeping all of you in our thoughts. And on behalf of all Canadians, I want you to know that we’re here for you – and we’ll be here for you in the days and weeks ahead,” he said.
National Police Federation President Brian Sauvé said the NPF was “working hard to ensure all our Members and their families are supported.”
“We are there for them now and will be there for them for the coming days and months as they work through this tragedy,” Sauvé said. “As Canadians, we are extremely fortunate these incidents are not common.”
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Sunday was “a truly heartbreaking day in Canada.”
“Tragedies like today are horrific and should never happen,” Blair said. “I know the people of Nova Scotia will band together to heal and mourn those who were lost. All Canadians will stand with them.”