Canada’s worst mass murderer was a millionaire alcoholic whose denture business was shuttered by coronavirus, it was revealed today as the death toll from his rampage rose past 19.
Gabriel Wortman, the 51-year-old gunman who was shot dead after a 12-hour killing and arson spree across Nova Scotia, was also said to have an obsession with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, known as ‘mounties’.
This infatuation, which his school yearbook showed spawned from an early age, reportedly saw him collect a haul of mountie gear including decommissioned cop cars he snapped up at auction.
Wortman delved into this trove of memorabilia to disguise as an officer, pulling victims over in his fake police vehicle before executing them point blank.
In a cruel twist, real mountie Heidi Stevenson, a mother-of-two, was among the dead which lay scattered across the eastern province.
They also include an elementary school teacher, a nurse, a care assistant, a family of three, and a husband and wife who leave behind four children.
Police sources told Canadian media that the first two victims were Wortman’s ex-wife and her new boyfriend, but he then easily slaughtered at random by pretending to be a police officer.
RCMP chief superintendent Chris Leather said: ‘His ability to move around the province undetected was surely greatly benefited by the fact that he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car.’
Wortman is understood to have abandoned his fake cop car after he crashed it and resorted to stealing a vehicle from another motorist, sources told CNN.
The shooter’s obsession with the mounties was underscored by the ‘shrine’ he had erected at his home in Portapique, an acquaintance said.
Nathan Staples, who lives in nearby Great Village and was approached by Wortman a few months ago asking if he would sell his own decommissioned cop car, told the Globe and Mail: ‘He was one of those freaky guys, he was really into police memorabilia.’
Wortman’s 1986 Riverview High School yearbook said he would likely one day become a mountie and old friends yesterday expressed shock as they remembered a ‘great friend and amazing person in High School,’ according to the Chronicle Herald.
But neighbors have painted a different picture of the killer, revealing he suffered an alcohol problem and his denture clinic, the Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth which they say made him a millionaire, was forced to mothball during the coronavirus lockdown.
Gabriel Wortman, the 51-year-old gunman who was shot dead after a 12-hour killing and arson spree across Nova Scotia, was said to have an obsession with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Husband and wife Greg and Jamie Blair were killed in the gun rampage and tragically leave behind four children. The couple are believed to have two sons together, while Jamie has two other boys
Family of three Jolene Oliver, Aaron ‘Friar’ Tuck, and their 17-year-old daughter Emily were wiped out in the shooting
The Atlantic Denture Clinic, owned by Wortman, was guarded by police in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on Monday. The clinic was forced to shutter because of coronavirus
Police warned residents that Wortman may be driving what ‘appears to be an RCMP vehicle, releasing this image, and said he may be wearing an RCMP uniform
Queen mourns Canada’s mass shooting
The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the people of Nova Scotia following the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history.
The Queen said: ‘Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Nova Scotia and we send our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those who have lost their lives.
‘I also pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other police services who selflessly responded to these devastating attacks, and to the emergency services who are supporting those who have been injured and affected.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nova Scotia and all Canadians at this tragic time. Elizabeth R.’
Canadian authorities are still piecing together the moments leading up to the most deadly shooting in the country’s history and reveal a timeline of the gunman’s movements during his 12-hour rampage that left at least 19 people dead.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they are investigating 16 separate crime scenes in connection to the mass shooting, which coincided with the anniversaries of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing and the 1993 Waco Siege in Texas.
The death toll started at 10, but by Monday afternoon it had risen to 19.
‘We’re relatively confident we’ve identified all the crime scenes,’ Nova Scotia RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said Monday, but said that fires set at some of those sites, mostly residences, made the search for other victims difficult.
‘We believe there may be victims still within the remains of those homes which burnt to the ground,’ Leather said.
Heartbreaking stories of the victims are starting to emerge, including a family of three from Portapique who were completely wiped out by Wortman.
Jolene Oliver, Aaron ‘Friar’ Tuck and their 17-year-old daughter Emily were all killed, according to a friend posting on a GoFundMe page.
Husband and wife Greg and Jamie Blair were also gunned down. The couple are believed to have two children together, and Jamie leaving behind four boys in total.
Authorities said the violence began on Saturday night in Portapique, where officers were alerted to shots fired around 11.32pm.
Wortman managed to evade police throughout the night and into Sunday morning. Police first revealed that they had an ‘active shooter’ situation around 8am in Portapique.
While authorities still have not pinned down a motive for the shooting spree, police sources told the Toronto Sun that the first two victims were the gunman’s ex-wife and her new boyfriend. It’s unclear if he killed the couple Saturday night or Sunday morning.
The sources said: ‘He’s been planning this for a while. He had the uniform and two decommissioned police cars.’
Authorities said the violence began on Saturday night in Portapique, where officers were alerted to shots fired around 11.32pm. Wortman managed to evade police throughout the night and into Sunday morning. Police first revealed that they had an ‘active shooter’ situation around 8am in Portapique. The violence ended on Sunday in Enfield
Police also responded to multiple fires, including one in Wentworth where volunteer firefighters were seen dousing hotspots near destroyed vehicles linked to Sunday’s deadly shooting rampage
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
But the rest of the victims appeared to be slaughtered at random. Several bodies were found inside and outside one house on Portapique Beach Road, the street where the suspect lived, authorities said.
By 8.54am, police shared with the public that there were ‘multiple victims’.
Just after 10am, police warned residents to avoid Highway 4 near Hidden Hilltop Campground in Glenholme, which is about 11 miles from Portapique, because Wortman had been spotted in there area.
Police had also revealed that Wortman had disguised himself as a police officer and was driving around in a fake cop car.
Between 10.20am and 11.24am, Wortman had been spotted in the areas of Debert and Central Onslow, near Brookfield and Milford.
Timeline: Gabriel Wortman kills at least 19 people in 12 hours over a 55-mile stretch of Nova Scotia, Canada
Authorities said Wortman began his reign of violence on Saturday night when police responded to a firearms complaint in Portapique.
His rampage last for at least 12 hours until he was apprehended by officers just before noon on Sunday.
While police are still piecing together the details, a timeline reveals some of Wortman’s movements:
Saturday, April 18, 2020:
Officers shard on Twitter that they were responding to an incident near Portapique Beach Road, Bay Shore Road and Five Houses Road .
People were told to avoid the area and stay in their homes with the doors locked.
That night, three house fires were also reported.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Police reveal on Twitter that the scene has become an ‘active shooter situation’ and warn residents to stay inside.
Authorities identify the gunman as Gabriel Wortman and say there are ‘multiple victims’ in the area.
Police warn residents to avoid Highway 4 near Hidden Hilltop Campground in Glenholme, which is about 11 miles from Portapique, because Wortman had been spotted in there area.
Authorities also warned that Wortman is disguised as an RCMP officer and driving a fake cop car.
10.21am: Central Onslow and Debert
Police share on Twitter that Wortman has been spotted in the Central Onslow and Debert area.
They warn locals to stay inside and avoid the area.
Authorities said Wortman was seen traveling near the Brookfield area.
By this time, Wortman changed cars and was spotted in a Chevy Tracker in Milford.
Officers tweet that Wortman is in custody.
A short time later, it was revealed that Wortman had died. Police did not confirm how he died
Authorities said at some point, Wortman was forced to abandon his car and then carjacked other vehicles to continue to ‘circulate around the province steps ahead of our investigators’.
At 11.40am, authorities shared that they had arrived to the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, nearly 60 miles from Portapique.
Police initially said Wortman had been arrested, but later said he had died. It was not clear how, and they did not provide further details, although one police official said that there was an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police at one point.
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,’ the statement read.
Police confirmed the death of constable Heidi Stevenson who was ‘executed point blank’ when she rammed his vehicle in an attempt to apprehend him.
Stevenson, a mother-of-two, was shot dead after Wortman dragged her out of her patrol car.
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.’
Lisa McCully was informally identified by her sister in a heartbreaking Facebook post Sunday 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.
Nurse Heather O’Brien was also identified by her daughter in a Facebook post shared Sunday that read: ‘A monster murdered my mother today.’
O’Brien was killed along with Kristen Beaton. Both women worked for Von Canada, the long term health care company revealed.
Several others were injured and are being treated at a local hospital, including a male RCMP officer.
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.’
Another victim, Gina Goulet, was identified by her daughter, Amelia Butler, who said her mother was a denturist and a cancer survivor.
Butler said Goulet, who loved fishing, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, and then again late last year.
‘She fought so hard for her life,’ Butler told the Toronto Star, adding that her mother was almost fully recovered when she was killed.
Married couple Frank Gulenchyn and Dawn Madsen, were also gunned down during the shooting.
Madsen, who was the mother of two sons, retired from her work at Oshawa’s Hillsdale Terraces long-term-care home just last year. She and her husband were longtime residents of Oshawa, Ontario, before moving to Nova Scotia.
Leather said during a press conference that the ‘initial search for the suspect led to multiple sites in the area, including structures that were on fire’.
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.
Couple Alanna Jenkins and Sean McLeod lost their lives during Wortman’s rampage over the weekend
Tom Bagley (left) and Lillian Hyslop (right) were also killed, in the worst mass murder in Canadian history
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia, on 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 station 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
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference on Monday: ‘The vast majority of Nova Scotians will have a direct link with one or more of the victims. The entire province and country is grieving right now as we come to grips with something that is unimaginable.’
‘The pandemic will prevent us from mourning together in person, but a vigil will be held virtually to celebrate the lives of the victims,’ Trudeau added, saying it would take place Friday night through a Facebook group.
Trudeau asked the media to avoid mentioning the name of the assailant or showing his picture.
‘Do not give this person the gift of infamy,’ he said.
‘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.
Trudeau said his government would introduce further gun control legislation prohibiting military-style assault weapons, a measure that had already been planned before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the current parliamentary session.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the force and a mother-of-two, was shot dead
Stevenson (left) was killed by Wortman while trying to apprehend him. Lisa McCully (right), a mother-of-two, was informally identified as a victim of the shooting spree
Wortman, who owned a denture practice in in the city of Dartmouth, near Halifax, lived part time in Portapique, according to residents.
He is listed as a denturist – a person who makes dentures – in the city of Dartmouth, near Halifax, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website.
Atlantic Denture Clinic, the practice Wortman owned, had been closed for the past month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matches video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.
According to his high school yearbook, Wortman had a fascination with the Mounties. ‘Gabe’s future may including being an RCMP officer,’ his yearbook profile said.
The Globe and Mail reported that neighbors told authorities that Wortman, who struggled with alcohol, drove around to local homes in the town of Portapique or pulled drivers over before killing them.
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.
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