Nova Scotia Shooting
A lone gunman disguised as law enforcement stormed across Nova Scotia over a two-day period, killing 16people, including an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The suspect left victims scattered across multiple crime scenes in different communities during a rampage that stretched from late Saturday into Sunday, said Chris Leather, chief superintendent of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force, was killed and another officer was injured while pursuing the suspect, Leather told reporters Sunday.
The gunman, identified as Gabriel Wortman, 51, is dead, he said. There was at least one exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police.
RCMP spokesperson Daniel Brien told POLITICO late Sunday that 16 people, not including the suspect, died.
The death toll surpasses the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, where a gunman killed 14 women before killing himself.
“This was a quickly evolving situation and a chaotic scene,” said Leather, who described at least part of the assault as “very random in nature.”
“He moved across the northern part of the province and committed, it would appear, several homicides.”
Suspect Gabriel Wortman Killed
Police said the suspect Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year old denturist, shot people at a variety of locations in Nova Scotia while driving what appeared to be a police vehicle.
The 12-hour shooting spree began on Saturday night and ended just before noon local time on Sunday.
The bodies of a number of victims were found inside and outside one home in the town of Portapique, about 80 miles north of Halifax.
Bodies were also recovered at other locations, as it is believed that the shooter may have targeted his initial victims but then decided to attack randomly.
Police arrested Wortman at a petrol station 60 miles south of where the shooting occurred just before noon on Sunday, following an exchange of gunfire between the officers and the suspect.
They later confirmed that the suspect had died, and was not in any way affiliated to the RCMP.
It has not been clarified yet whether the attack was motivated, and how Wortman was able to obtain what looked like a police car.
One of the tragic victims was Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable (RCMP) Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the Nova Scotia police service.
The mother of two was shot while responding to the incident.
A statement from Brian Suavé, the President of the National Police Federation union president, read: “Our hearts are heavy with grief and sadness today as we have lost one of our own. Our thoughts go out to our Member’ family and friends.
“A second dedicated Member was injured in the line of duty today. We will do everything we can to support them and wish them a full recovery.”
Nova Scotia’s Premier Stephen McNeil said the shooting was “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history”.
He added: “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.”
Christine Mills, a resident of the area, said it had been a frightening night for the small town, with armed officers patrolling the streets and helicopters used to search for the suspect.
She said: “It’s nerve-wracking because you don’t know if somebody has lost their mind and is going to beat in your front door.”
RCMP spokesman Daniel Brien confirmed that 17 people had been killed in addition to the suspect, and added he could not rule out that the death toll could still rise.
Nova Scotia Assistant Commissioner Statement
Lee Bergerman, the assistant commissioner of the Nova Scotia RCMP, told a press conference that it was a devastating day for the province that “will remain etched in the minds of many for years to come.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said it was a heartbreaking day for all of Canada. “I know the people of Nova Scotia are especially shaken and looking for answers.”