The lone gunman, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was also dead. He had “moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said.
A possible motive was unclear; police said many of his victims did not know the killer. At one point, he apparently disguised himself as a police officer, investigators added. Several bodies turned up inside and outside a home in the town of Portapique, what police called the first crime scene.
Among the victims, at least one officer died and another suffered injuries, according to Brian Sauvé, the president of the National Police Federation union. The dead officer was identified as Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year veteran of the force.
Investigators said earlier that they took Wortman into custody before later adding that he died. They did not give specifics.
Wortman’s name was released about nine hours after an initial tweet around midnight asking people to avoid the Portapique area and stay indoors as officers responded to a firearms complaint.
About three hours later, police tweeted that Wortman had been taken into custody at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia.
Several building fires were reported as well, but police didn’t immediately confirm details.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
“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,″ Premier Stephen McNeil said. “This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history.”
He added that it was an additional “heavy burden” amid efforts to contain the coronavirus.
As police were seeking Wortman, they tweeted that he may have been driving what appeared to be an RCMP vehicle and wearing an RCMP uniform. Police said he was not a mountie.
A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website, The Associated Press reported. A suspect photo issued by the RCMP reportedly matched video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.
Tom Taggart, a lawmaker in the municipality of Colchester, said the shooting shook the otherwise quiet community.
“This is just an absolutely wonderful, peaceful quiet community and the idea that this could happen in our community is unbelievable,” Taggart said by phone from his home in Bass River, near the lockdown area.
“People live here because of the peace and quiet and it’s just an absolute tragedy,” he added.
Taggart said he didn’t know Wortman well, but spoke to him a few times when he called about municipal issues.
Harbingers Daily Addition:
Franklin Graham took to Facebook following the deadly shooting rampage with an important reminder: the weapon is not the problem, the problem is with the human heart:
Canada has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, so many people can’t understand how a horrible shooting like this can occur with those laws in place. But criminals don’t obey the laws. Gun laws don’t stop people from doing evil things. The Bible says “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). God says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Only Jesus Christ can change the human heart. More gun laws won’t stop murder, as they have seen in London where knife attacks have increased and now they’re thinking about banning knives. That’s not the solution. Pray for the families and loved ones of those whose lives were taken in this brutal rampage in Nova Scotia.