Toll Rises to 19 in Canada's Deadliest Mass Shooting

Gunman was obsessed with police
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2020 6:30 PM CDT
Nova Scotia Gunman Was Obsessed With Police
The RCMP tweeted this photo of Wortman Sunday morning.   (RCMP)

The motive in the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history is still unclear, but investigators say a lot of planning apparently went into the rampage: Gunman Gabriel Wortman disguised himself as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and drove what appeared to be an RCMP cruiser. Associates say the 51-year-old denturist was obsessed with the police and used to buy old police cruisers at auction. Nathan Staples, who lives near Portapique, Nova Scotia, where the shootings began Saturday night, tells the Globe and Mail that Wortman's home was a "shrine" to the Mounties. "He was one of those freaky guys, he was really into police memorabilia," Staple says. More:

  • Death toll rises. The RCMP said Monday that the death toll had risen to 19, including Wortman. Chief Supt. Chris Leather said the toll from the 16 crime scenes is likely to rise further, the CBC reports. "We have had five structure fires, most of those being residences, and we believe there may be victims still within the remains of those homes which burned to the ground," he said.
  • The car and uniform. "His ability to move around the province undetected was surely greatly benefited by the fact he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car," Leather said, per Halifax Today. "And beyond that, he was wearing a police uniform that was either a good fabrication of, or actually a police uniform."

  • The victims. Investigators say some, but not all, of the victims were known to Wortman, who owned two denture clinics in the province. Most of the victims identified so far have been women, including RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson. The victims include 17-year-old Emily Oliver, who was killed in her home along with parents Jolene Oliver and Aaron Tuck, the National Post reports.
  • The timeline. Police say they received a call about a "firearms incident" in Portapique around 11:30pm Saturday. Casualties were found both inside and outside a home in the community. Wortman was identified as the suspect around 9am Sunday and police warned that he was still at large. At 11:20am, police said he had changed vehicles and was now in a Chevy SUV. At 11:40am, they said he was "in custody" after being found at a gas station. Police later confirmed that he had died.
  • Vehicle "surrounded by police." Paula Hanrahan tells the Chronicle Herald that she saw the SUV surrounded by police at the gas station in Enfield, around 60 miles south of Portapique. "Oh my dear, there were more men than I could count in full gear with 'Police' on the back and assault rifles in their hands," she says. "All you could hear were the dogs growling, clawing at the pavement to get to this vehicle, and men yelling."
  • A terrifying visit. An acquaintance who hadn't seen Wortman for 10 months tells the Globe and Mail that he was banging at the door around 9:30 Sunday morning, holding a rifle and a pistol.
  • Trudeau speaks out. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sorrow Monday and offered condolences Monday. "Such a tragedy should never have occurred," he said. "We stand with you, and we grieve with you, and you can count on our government's full support during this incredibly painful time."
(More Canada stories.)

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