Nova Scotia deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history, “We’re going to get through this,” says PM Trudeau

A province and a nation in shock and grief after one of the deadliest mass killings in our Canadian history. 

At least 19 people have been killed in Nova Scotia. Police are investigating multiple crime scenes including the small community of Portapique along the Bay of Fundy where it all began. 

Residents and communities in Nova scotia woke up to devastating news after a lone gunman’s rampage killing at least 19 people including the gunman. At a news briefing Monday afternoon, RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather confirmed officers are currently investigating 16 crime scenes spread across Portapique, N.S., and other nearby communities. 

Chief Leather said that some but not all of the victims were known to the gunman. He also said that he expects the number of people killed to rise as they investigate these scenes further. It could take months to unravel the motive behind the lone suspect’s violent path across the province Saturday night and into Sunday. 

Victims include a 23-year veteran of the RCMP, an elementary school teacher, two health-care workers, a family of three, and a corrections officer.

Victims were killed in a 12-hour rampage that was said to have begun late Saturday night in the community of Portapique. The gunman then moved through other local communities in the area before being intercepted by police officers about 90 kilometres in Enfield, North of Halifax. 

The gunman, identified as Gabriel Wortman, 51, was fatally shot by police officers near a gas station.

Chief Supt. Chris Leather said at the media update Monday afternoon that the crime scenes include five structure fires where RCMP believe more fatalities may be found. 

“We’re going to get through this,”

SAYS PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU AFTER THE NOVA SCOTIA MASS SHOOTING DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dedicated his entire daily press conference to the violent mass shooting that had unfolded in Nova Scotia this past weekend. He encouraged all Canadians to stand united, to defeat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but to help others and make it through to a better day. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences to the loved ones of the victims in his daily address as this tragedy is one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history. 

“Such a tragedy should never have occurred,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 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.”

“We’re going to get through this together. I promise.” Said, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

How the mass shooting all started?

The incident began late Saturday evening when Nova Scotia RCMP responded to several 911 calls about an active shooter in Portapique, 33 kilometres west of Truro, N.S.

Police said at a media conference Sunday afternoon that they found ‘several’ casualties inside and outside a residence, but no shooter.  

Officers secured the area in Portapique and started what would become a 12-hour manhunt.

The RCMP warned residents of the area, already in lockdown because of the pandemic, to lock their doors and stay inside. 

The suspect was reported driving what was made to look like an RCMP cruiser and was possibly wearing a fake uniform. The suspect, who owned two denture clinics in the Halifax area, has never been a member of the RCMP.

Crimes were scattered over at least 50 kilometres and 16 crime scenes, police said.

According to CBC News witnesses said they saw multiple fires. Witnesses driving near Highway 102 saw two police vehicles on fire by the silver suspect vehicle. An officer ran toward one of the burning vehicles as shots rang out, before seeing the shooter – dressed like a police officer – in the silver car again being chased by the police. 

Profile of Victims

Victims include:

  • A long time elementary school teacher, from Debert Elementary School. She is a mother of two who lived in Portapique.
  • A 23-year veteran of RCMP, Const. Heidi Stevenson who as responding to the call about an active shooter. She is married and a mother of two.
  • Two health-care workers, who worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses-VON. One licensed practical nurse, a wife, mother and grandmother, who worked at VON for 17 years. And a continuing-care assistant and a young wife and mother who worked for VON for nearly six years. 
  • A family of three who moved from Alberta to Nova Scotia two years ago.
  • A former airport firefighter who was passing by the scene of the explosion in West Wentworth and trying to help when he was shot and killed. 
  • A Correctional Service Canada employee at Springhill Institution, a federal prison in Springhill, N.S. He lived in West Wentworth, about 50 kilometres north of Portapique. 
  • A corrections officer at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S.  

What do we know about the gunman?

The gunman identified as Gabriel Wortman, 51, is suspected to be the lone person involved in the rampage. 

He is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. According to property records, Wortman owns a denture clinic and two other properties in Dartmouth and three properties in Portapique.

The motive behind this mass shooting was still too early in the investigation to have any sense, Chief Leather said, including whether the COVID-19-related lockdown had any bearing on the gunman’s behaviour. 

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