A veteran police officer and an elementary school teacher who were both mothers are among at least 18 people killed in the most deadly mass shooting in Canadian history.
Gunman Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year-old denturist, was shot dead by police after a 12-hour slaughter across the eastern province of Nova Scotia.
Disguised as a police officer and driving a fake cop car, he reportedly ‘executed point blank’ constable Heidi Stevenson when she rammed his vehicle in an attempt to apprehend him.
Lisa McCully, a teacher at Derbert Elementary, was informally identified by her sister in a heartbreaking Facebook post last night.
Nurse Heather O’Brien was also identified by her daughter in a Facebook post shared Sunday night that read: ‘A monster murdered my mother today.’
Police said Wortman had been on the run since Saturday night, when officers were alerted to shots fired in the town of Portapique, around 60 miles from Halifax.
Wortman appeared to slaughter most of his targets at random, but police sources told the Toronto Sun the first two victims were the gunman’s ex-wife and her new boyfriend.
The sources said: ‘He’s been planning this for a while. He had the uniform and two decommissioned police cars.’
Several others were injured and are being treated at a local hospital, including a male Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.
The mass shooting, which are incredibly rare in Canada, coincided with the anniversaries of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing and the 1993 Waco Siege in Texas.
Victim: Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the force and a mother-of-two was shot dead
Victim: Lisa McCully, a mother-of-two, has been informally identified as a victim of yesterday’s gun rampage in the eastern province of Nova Scotia
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson (left) reportedly rammed her car into gunman Gabriel Wortman (right) who shot her at ‘point blank range’
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP officer Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the force and a mother-of-two, was responding to the shootings when she was killed in the line of duty.
Stevenson reportedly rammed her car into Wortman’s vehicle to try to bring him to a stop, before she was shot at ‘point blank’ range, according to the Toronto Sun.
At a press conference on Sunday, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman confirmed Stevenson’s death, saying: ‘Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served. Earlier this afternoon I met with Heidi’s family and there are no words to describe their pain.
‘Two children have lost their mother. And a husband has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.’
At least 18 people have been confirmed dead in the attack – the National Post reports 17 – but civilian victims have not yet been formally named.
McCully was named locally by her sister on Facebook last night. Jenny Kierstead wrote: ‘This is so hard to write but many of you will want to know.
‘Our hearts are broken today as we attempt to accept the loss of my sister, Lisa McCully, who was one of the victims of the mass shooting in Portapique last night.
‘Our condolences go out to the other family members who are affected by this tragedy. Thank you for your support, it’s a hard day.’
McCully taught at Debert Elementary where she was a ‘passionate teacher’ and a ‘shining love’ in the lives of her family and friends, the teachers union said in a tribute.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia Sunday. Police first announced that they had arrested Wortman at the gas station but later said he had died
Workers with the medical examiner’s office remove a body from a gas bar in Enfield, Nova Scotia on Sunday. Late Sunday morning, there were half a dozen police vehicles at the scene of the gas station where the suspect died. Yellow police tape surrounded the gas pumps, and a large silver-colored SUV was being investigated.
A Wentworth volunteer firefighter douses hotspots near destroyed vehicles linked to Sunday’s deadly shooting rampage on Monday
Family members also paid tribute to Corrie Ellison on Sunday afternoon, with his cousin Juliene Henderson writing: ‘Tragic and surreal..RIP to my cousin Corrie and to the several others killed.
‘Just texted him this AM to see if his Dad was ok (his Dad lived in portique) ..not knowing he was out there and already killed. ‘
Wortman’s rampage, in which he also burned buildings, ended shortly before noon local time, when police located him at a gas station around 60 miles south of where the shootings occurred.
His rampage took him across the province, with police describing several crime scenes and multiple burning buildings.
A police spokesperson said, without further details, that the gunman was killed after an officer intervened and it has been reported Wortman was shot dead.
Photos showed several armed officers surrounding a car at the gas station and a body was later taken from the scene.
A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matches video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014
The Atlantic Denture Clinic, owned by Wortman, is guarded by police in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on Monday
Several victims were discovered both outside and inside a house in Portapique, sparking the manhunt through multiple communities, police said.
RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather told a press conference: ‘The search for the suspect ended this morning when the suspect was located. And I can confirm that he is deceased.’
Leather said that at one point, the suspect appeared to be wearing part of a police uniform and was driving a vehicle made to look like an RCMP cruiser.
RCMP tweeted several times that he was not an officer and warned he was considered ‘armed and dangerous.’
Leather said: ‘The initial search for the suspect led to multiple sites in the area, including structures that were on fire.
An independent agency, the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT), which probes certain incidents involving the province’s police, said in a statement that a confrontation had occurred in Enfield, which is near the Halifax airport, ‘resulting in officers discharging their firearms. The suspect was found to be deceased at the scene.’
Police warned that Wortman may be driving what ‘appears to be an RCMP vehicle, releasing this image, and said he may be wearing an RCMP uniform
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers prepare to take a person into custody at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia on Sunday
Describing the scene as ‘chaotic,’ officials said at least 18 people were killed across multiple locations in the small town. The number could grow during the search of other crime scenes
Police said they had no indication of a motive, but RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told CBC there was no indication ‘at this point’ of a terrorist intent.
‘What I would say is that it appears to be at least in part, very random in nature. We are in the early stages of an incredibly detailed and complex investigation that has forever changed countless lives.’
Yet police sources told the Toronto Sun it was a calculated attack which Wortman had been plotting for a while.
‘That 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. He added that police believe he acted alone.
Leather said they would investigate whether the attack had anything to do with the coronavirus pandemic but no link has been found thus far.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that he ‘was saddened to learn about the senseless violence in Nova Scotia,’ and he hopes for a full recovery of the wounded.
‘As a country, in moments like these, we come together to support one another. Together we will mourn with the families of the victims, and help them get through this difficult time,’ Trudeau said.
A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, a person who makes dentures, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website.
A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matches video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) monitor Portapique Beach Road, as a fire truck travels along it during the search for Gabriel Wortman on Sunday
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers speak with a man, as two RCMP vehicles travel on Portapique Beach Road, after the police finished their search for Gabriel Wortman
Local resident Dave Brown was seen putting up a memorial for the community after the shootings, nearby the road where the shootings occurred. Several bodies were found inside and outside one home in the small, rural town of Portapiqu
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada. The country overhauled its gun-control laws after gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989.
Before this weekend’s rampage, that had been the country’s worst.
It is illegal to possess an unregistered handgun or any kind of rapid-fire weapon in Canada. The country also requires training, a personal risk assessment, two references, spousal notification and criminal record checks to purchase a weapon.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil called the shootings ‘one of the most senseless acts of violence’ in the province’s history.
He added: ‘To the families of the victims and those that are feeling afraid, my heart goes out to you.’
On Saturday night, Cpl. Lisa Croteau, public information officer with the RCMP Nova Scotia, said police received a call about ‘a person with firearms’ around 10.30pm and it later ‘evolved into an active shooting investigation.’
Tom Taggart, a lawmaker in the municipality of Colchester, said the quiet community has been shaken.
‘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 said.
Taggart said he didn’t know Wortman well, but spoke to him a few times when he telephoned about municipal issues.
Taggart described knowing Wortman’s ‘lovely big home’ on Portapique Beach Road.
He said Wortman owned a few other properties in the community and was believed to divide his time between Portapique and his business in Dartmouth.
He described Portapique as ‘cottage country,’ with about 100 year-round residents and 250 in the summer.
‘You just don’t even dream that this is going to happen,’ he said. ‘I can’t fathom it.’
Timeline: Other mass shootings in Canada
A gunman went on a shooting rampage that left 18 people dead Sunday in the deadliest such attack in Canadian history. Here’s a look at other mass shootings in Canada:
– Aug. 10, 2018: A gunman opens fire in Fredericton, New Brunswick, killing two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and two civilians. He has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
– April 23, 2018: A man drives a van along a crowded Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and seriously injuring 16 others. The man later admits in court to carrying out the attack in retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. He’s awaiting trial on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder.
– Jan. 29, 2017: Six people are killed and eight injured when a man goes on a shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque. A university student who had taken far-right political positions on social media pleaded guilty.
– Dec. 29, 2014: A man shoots and kills six adults and two young children in two different homes in Edmonton, Alberta. The suspect then kills himself.
– June 4, 2014: A man uses a semiautomatic rifle to fatally shoot three RCMP officers and wound two others in Moncton, New Brunswick.
– April 5, 1996: A man, apparently angered by his wife’s divorce action, kills her and eight other members of her family in Vernon, British Columbia, before killing himself.
– Sept. 18, 1992: A bomb kills nine strike-breaking workers at the Giant Yellowknife gold mine in the Northwest Territories.
– Dec. 6, 1989: A man with a semi-automatic rifle storms into an engineering classroom at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, asks men to leave and then kills 14 women before turning the gun on himself.
– Sept. 1, 1972: An arson attack on a downtown Montreal night club kills 37 people and injures 64. Gasoline was spread on the stairway of the Blue Bird Cafe and then ignited. Three young men from Montreal who had earlier been denied entry for drunkenness were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Source: Associated Press