HALIFAX — Hours after a gunman killed 13 people in Portapic, northern Nova Scotia, on the evening of Saturday, April 18, 2020, the RCMP didn’t know he had resumed shooting at people on Sunday morning until panic calls began to 9-1-1 service. infusing.
By then, around 9:30 on Sunday morning, four more people had been shot and the killer was still at large.
The April 2020 Homicide Commission released a key document on Wednesday giving gruesome details of the chaos that followed the initial rampage on Saturday night as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) frantically tried to find a suspect driving a replica. patrol car.
“It was during this period that the aggressor resumed his killings after a short respite during the night,” commission prosecutor Roger Barrill said on Wednesday during a presentation based on this “fundamental document.”
What happened between 6:35 and 9:00?
The document shows that after spending the night of April 18 in his car in Debert, the shooter left before dawn and drove about 40 miles undetected to his home in West Wentworth, in the rural area.
CCTV footage shows the killer arriving at Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins’ home on Hunter Road at 6:35 a.m. Sunday morning. Neighbors have several times reported hearing gunshots, but it is unclear what happened in this remote home between 6:35 and 9:00 am.
Civilian and police investigators believe the two victims were gunned down in their home before it was set on fire. “It’s hard to say exactly what happened in that house,” Burrill said on Wednesday. “It’s a source of frustration in terms of the information we have.”
The investigation learned that the two victims, who both worked as correctional officers, knew the killer, whom police identified last night as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman. The document did not state a motive for the killings, but the RCMP said the killer was likely an advocate seeking to reconcile old grievances.
Commission investigators believe their neighbor, retired firefighter Tom Bagley, was out for a morning walk shortly after 8:50 a.m. when he spotted the house on fire and tried to offer help. He was shot dead right outside the house, before the killer left, around 9:20 am, the document says.
No general warnings
In a subsequent interview with his wife, Patsy, investigators learned that Mr. Bagley checked Facebook and the news before going for a walk, but there was no indication that he or his wife had learned anything about the last night’s Portapique murders. .
The RCMP was heavily criticized for the way they communicated with the public throughout the operation. In particular, questions were raised as to why the RCMP did not use the National Public Alert System to alert them to the presence of an “active shooter”.
The system can be used to transmit urgent messages to television, radio and wireless devices. Some critics, including victims’ relatives, said the RCMP’s use of Twitter made no sense, as villagers rarely use the platform.
There has also been speculation that the RCMP did not increase their warnings on the night of 18 April because they were confident that the threat had passed as the shooting at Portapique ceased. The inquest, which began public hearings on February 22, learned that some RCMP officers speculated that the shooter had committed suicide in the wooded area of Portapic that night.
Alert about the “active shooter” at 8:02.
It wasn’t until after 7:30 a.m. Sunday that police learned from Wortman’s wife that he had eluded a police search on a copy of the RCMP cruiser.
At 8:02 a.m., the RCMP issued a brief warning on Twitter, noting for the first time that they were looking for an “active shooter” in the Portapic area. They then urged residents to stay at home, but there was no mention of the killer’s car.
Later, amid the chaos, the RCMP sent out two messages to all police radios in the area at 9:42 am indicating that a woman had been killed in the village of Wentworth, about 15 kilometers south of Hunter Road. Lillian Campbell, a retiree, was out for a morning walk when she was shot dead on the side of the road.
A police radio message also alerted officers that a patrol car had been sighted in the area.
The suspect killed five more people, including a RCMP officer and a pregnant woman, before being shot and killed shortly before 11:30 a.m. by a police officer who saw him fill up a stolen car at a gas station 30km north of Halifax.