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As Nova Scotia Death Toll Rises, a Big Criticism

No emergency alerts were sent out during 12-hour rampage
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2020 12:02 AM CDT
Updated Apr 22, 2020 12:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – The death toll in Canada's deadliest mass shooting has hit 22. That does not include the shooter, who went on a rampage spanning 16 crime scenes across five Nova Scotia communities from Saturday night until almost noon Sunday. The gunman also set fires that damaged or destroyed more than five structures and cars, the CBC reports. Among the victims killed were two nurses, Kristen Beaton and Heather O'Brien. Beaton, the mother of a 3-year-old son who was pregnant with a second child, was on her way to see a continuing care client when she was killed Sunday morning. Her husband says the province's failure to send out any emergency alerts doomed his wife. They didn't realize the gunman was wearing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform and driving a police vehicle "until it was too late."

"I would not have let my wife leave ... if I had that broadcast come across, that he was on the loose and he was driving an RCMP vehicle," he says, per the CBC. He says the couple had been monitoring the situation Saturday night, but assumed it was under control by the following day when no alert was sent out, the Cape Breton Post reports. When he found out the gunman was still at large, he sent his wife a message warning her not to stop for anyone—but she was killed minutes later, never having had a chance to read it. Premier Stephen McNeil has been criticized for the lack of emergency alerts, but he says it's up to the RCMP to ask for such an alert and provide the details for it. "We had staff on hand in the morning to be able to do that," he said. "But it was not requested." Instead, the RCMP provided updates via Twitter. (The victims also included a mother, father, and their teen daughter.)

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