More than 13 people, including a police officer, were killed in a mass shooting that unrolled over nearly 60 miles of Nova Scotia, Canada, beginning Saturday evening in the small, rural community Portapique on the north shore of Cobequid Bay and ending hours later and 60 miles away in Enfield when the suspect was shot and killed.
Investigators identified the suspect as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman and said at one point he was traveling in a “mock-up” Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) cruiser and wearing “part of” of a police uniform, Global News reported.
The slain officer was identified as Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force. She was married with two children, RCMP said. RCMP also said a male officer was wounded and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
RCMP public information officer Cpl. Lisa Croteau said officers were called at about 10:30 p.m. AST Saturday night about “a person with firearms” and the investigation “evolved into an active shooting investigation.” Chief Supt. Chris Leather said officers found “several casualties” inside and outside the home. Several structures in the area were reported to be ablaze as well.
Police provided various updates throughout the night and morning as they tracked Wortman, warning residents to stay inside. Although police weren’t forthcoming with a motive, they said it appeared to have been planned.
“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.
Residents of Portapique said that Wortman was a denturist who owned Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth. Christine Mills told the Associated Press that he had homes in Portapique and in Halifax. Global News reported that Nova Scotia property records indicated Wortman owned three properties in Portapique.
Tom Taggart, a councillor who represents the Portapique area on the Municipality of Colchester, told Global News that Wortman owned a “lovely big home” near the mouth of the Portapique River. He described the tiny village as “cottage country,” with about 100 residents year-round and an additional 150 in the summer.
“You just don’t even dream that this is going to happen,” he said. “I can’t fathom it.”
The RCMP did not provide details of the shootings in Portapique and could not provide a total number of victims.
“In excess of 10 people have been killed,” Leather said, according to the AP. “We believe it to be one person who is responsible for all the killings and that he alone moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides.”
“It almost certainly will be more than 10,” he said. “How much more than 10, I do not know.”
The denouement of the incident took place at the Irving gas station and Big Stop restaurant in Enfield. Tom Nurani, a trucker from Ontario, told CTV News he had stopped at Irving for a shower and breakfast. Suddenly, an employee began shouting.
“She goes, ‘Oh my God, lock the doors, he’s here!’” Nurani said. “And I peek out of the window and I saw some RCMP vehicles and there was four or five uniforms with guns.”
It was over quickly. “There was multiple, like probably between five or 10 (gunshots),” said Deon Wells, who lives near the station. “It was steady.”
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[Featured image: Constable Heidi Stevenson/RCMP]