More than 10 people dead after gunman’s rampage in N.S. community

By | April 19, 2020

People in a rural Nova Scotia community are reeling today after a bloody 12-hour rampage by a gunman who killed at least 10 people. 

In an update on Sunday evening, police confirmed the gunman is dead, as well as an RCMP officer. 

They said there are at least 10 people killed in total. They warned there may be more victims who have not been discovered yet and their investigation continues. 

Nova Scotia RCMP said the gunman was Gabriel Wortman, 51. His rampage began late Saturday night in the small community of Portapique, N.S. He led police on a chase Sunday morning along one of the province’s busiest highways. The chase ended near a gas station about 35 kilometres north of Halifax in Enfield, N.S., around 11:40 a.m. local time.

Police victim identified

Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year-member of the RCMP, has been identified as the police member who was killed responding to the active shooter incident.

“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,” Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman told reporters during an update on Sunday evening.

“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.”

Bergerman also said a second male officer was injured and is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police union says 1 member killed, 1 injured

The RCMP union said Sunday members were grieving after losing one of their own.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who experienced great loss today, so tragically and unnecessarily. There are no words,” according to the statement from National Police Federation (NPF) president Brian Sauvé.

The NPF also said a second member was injured in the line of duty. 

‘One of the most senseless acts of violence’ in N.S. history

Premier Stephen McNeil addressed the investigation Sunday afternoon.

“I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia. This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” McNeil said.

“To the families of the victims, and to those who are still feeling afraid, my heart goes out to you. Know that all Nova Scotians are with you.”

RCMP are shown near a gas station in Enfield, N.S., around 11:40 a.m. local time. The gunman has been killed. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

McNeil also thanked RCMP for stopping the gunman and doing their best to protect citizens.

In a media briefing Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also thanked police for their work.

“My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation,” Trudeau said in a brief statement.

Had car resembling RCMP vehicle, police say

Earlier, police had warned that the gunman, who they identified as Wortman before his capture, might be driving a vehicle that looked like an RCMP vehicle, and he might have been wearing an RCMP uniform.

RCMP warned that he was to be considered armed and dangerous. 

“If you see him, call 911. DO NOT approach,” RCMP tweeted Sunday morning. 

Darcy Sack, a Shubenacadie, N.S., resident, said she and her friend came across two burning police vehicles and the silver suspect vehicle while out driving on Sunday morning near Highway 102, one of the province’s main arteries.

“We were right behind the police car that was on fire. There was one officer we could see on scene and then all of a sudden, he went running toward one of the burning vehicles,” Sack said. “We heard gunshots.”

Sack said her heart was pounding the whole time.

“I had that feeling that something was wrong with the [police officer’s] partner — the way he looked. My heart went out to him,” she said.

Sack said they then turned on to the highway and then saw the shooter in the silver car again being chased by police. She said he was dressed like a police officer.

Incident began late Saturday night

Police first alerted the public to an incident involving someone with a firearm in the Portapique area on Saturday at 11:30 p.m. Residents were advised by RCMP to stay in their homes and lock their doors.

“You may not see the police but we are there with you,” the Nova Scotia RCMP tweeted Sunday morning.

The gunman Gabriel Wortman, 51, has died after an active shooter situation that began late Saturday in the rural community of Portapique, N.S. (RCMP)

Eyewitness saw homes burning

Mike MacKay, who lives just off the Glooscap Trail in Portapique said he saw police cars on the Portapique Beach Road around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, across the Portapique River from his home. 

“We saw a fire down the road, and thought that’s all that it was. Then we saw a second fire and a third fire,” said MacKay in a phone interview from his home Sunday morning.

CBC has learned RCMP and fire fighters were called to a property in Wentworth, N.S., on Sunday morning shortly before 10 a.m. to respond to a house fire. 

Police have not released any information about whether it is connected to the shooter investigation.

The RCMP would not comment on the report of multiple house fires when asked by CBC News on Sunday morning. 

‘You’re on edge’

MacKay said he did not sleep at all overnight Saturday.

“You’re on edge. It’s a small community,” said MacKay. “It becomes quite a concern.”

(CBC)

Coun. Tom Taggart, who represents the area for the Municipality of Colchester, described Portapique as a quiet community with many seniors.

Taggart said there are many seasonal homes in the area, which has around 100 residents but swells to 250 in the warmer months.

“It’s a beautiful, quiet, rural community,” said Taggart, adding that the situation is not something he’d expect to happen in “cottage country.”

A person with the name Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in the Halifax area on the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. He is listed as the owner of this property in Dartmouth, where police were Sunday afternoon. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Wortman owns multiple properties

A person with the name Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in the Halifax area on 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.

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