Gabriel Wortman (pictured) killed 22 people during a rampage across several small towns in Nova Scotia in April. Two months later family members are demanding a federal inquiry into the case
Families of the 22 victims killed in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history are demanding a swift federal inquiry amid mounting conspiracy theories that the gunman was an undercover agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or had ties to organized crime.
Gabriel Wortman, 51, launched his deadly rampage across several small towns in Nova Scotia on the night of April 18, lighting fires and shooting people at whim with four unlicensed semi-automatic weapons as he drove around in a replica police cruiser.
For 13 hours he evaded capture by the RCMP before he was shot dead in a confrontation with Mounties at a gas station in Enfield, 60 miles (97 km) from where the rampage began in his hometown of Portapique.
By the end of the spree Wortman had claimed the lives of 22 people – 13 who died from bullets and nine who died in the fires.
More than two months later the victims’ families are still seeking answers as to why Wortman carried out the attack and why it took so long for the RCMP to stop him.
Over the past several weeks Nova Scotia attorney general Mark Furey has repeatedly promised that a federal-provincial inquiry is on the way – yet no official date has been set.
A potential break in the case came last week when news magazine Maclean’s unearthed video which allegedly showed Wortman withdrawing $475,000 from a Brink’s office 19 days before the shooting.
Law enforcement sources say that the massive withdrawal matched the method the RCMP uses to send money to confidential informants and agents – and would not have been possible for a regular citizen.
The RCMP has repeatedly insisted that it had no ‘special relationship’ with Wortman and refused to answer questions about the withdrawal.
Others have speculated that the money could have come from Wortman’s alleged ties to organized crime as authorities are said to be investigating his relationships with people linked to a Mexican cartel, La Familia, and to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
More than two months after the deadly rampage the victims’ families are still seeking answers as to why Wortman carried out the attack and why it took so long for the RCMP to stop him. Pictured: A family visits a memorial in Portapique, where the rampage started, on April 24
Surveillance video allegedly showed Wortman withdrawing $475,000 from a Brink’s office in Nova Scotia on March 30 – 19 days before he killed 22 people in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. The unusual withdrawal has sparked speculation that Wortman may have been an informant or agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police force
While compelling, the latest theories have done little to placate victims’ loved ones who are demanding to hear concrete facts, whether it be from the RCMP or from outside investigators conducting a federal-provincial inquiry.
‘The amount of information being kept from us is deplorable,’ Darcy Dobson, whose mother Heather O’Brien was shot dead by Wortman, told CBC earlier this month.
Most of what is known about the shooting was released in the days after it occurred, with little information released since then.
The rampage allegedly began after Wortman assaulted his common-law wife, who fled into the woods and hid for several hours.
Investigators said the assault could have been the catalyst for the killing spree, but that they are not ruling out that the massacre could have been pre-planned as Wortman had disputes with several of his victims.
The RCMP faced fierce criticism over their handling of the case early on, after admitting that they failed to issue a timely public alert about the gunman that could have potentially saved many lives.
The criticism heightened after a court document released last month outlined warning signs apparently ignored by police, including Wortman’s history of paranoid behavior and his stockpile of guns and gasoline.
It’s been suggested that the RCMP failed to take action on several complaints about Wortman’s illegal guns and allegations that he had abused his partner.
Authorities said the violence began on the night of April 18 in Portapique, where officers were alerted to shots fired around 10.26pm. 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 13 hours later in Enfield
RCMP investigators are pictured on April 23 at the scene where Wortman shot and killed one of his victims with an unlicensed weapon
Wortman is filmed withdrawing $475,000 in cash from a Brink’s office 19 days before the shooting
The latest twist in the case came last week when Maclean’s acquired two videos from a source close to the investigation which allegedly showed him taking out $475,000 in cash from a Brink’s office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on March 30.
In the first video Wortman is seen pulling into the fenced yard of the security facility in what appears to be a decommissioned police cruiser.
The second video, shot inside the office, shows Wortman dressed in a baseball cap and leather jacket as he makes the withdrawal.
He then brings a suitcase, purportedly filled with hundred-dollar bills, outside and stashes it in the trunk of his car.
The police source said the money was transferred to Brink’s from CIBC Intria, a subsidiary of the chartered bank that handles currency transactions.
It remains unclear how and why Wortman, a dentist, acquired such a large quantity of cash.
While he ran his own dentistry practice, there is no reason to believe that it would have required him to handle large sums of cash, according to Maclean’s.
Court records show Wortman also owned a New Brunswick-registered company called Berkshire-Broman. The purpose of that company is unclear, but there is no evidence that it would have been able to move large sums of cash.
Video obtained by news magazine Maclean’s shows Wortman arriving at a Brink’s security facility on March 30 in what appears to be one of his decommissioned police cruisers
Wortman exited the facility minutes later with a duffel bag purportedly filled with hundred-dollar bills. Bank and law enforcement sources have said that the massive withdrawal matched the method the Royal Canadian Mounted Police uses to send money to confidential informants and agents – and would not have been possible for a regular citizen
Police and bank sources suggest that Wortman’s cash may have come from undercover RCMP operations
A Mountie familiar with RCMP undercover operations said that even if the money did come from one of Wortman’s accounts, he would not have been able to collect it from Brink’s as a private citizen.
‘There’s no way a civilian can just make an arrangement like that,’ he told Maclean’s, noting that the transaction is consistent with how the RCMP pays its agents and informants.
‘I’ve worked a number of CI cases over the years and that’s how things go. All the payments are made in cash.
‘To me that transaction alone proves he has a secret relationship with the force.’
Another Mountie who has also been involved with CI operations shared the same suspicion, calling the withdrawal ‘tradecraft’.
The second Mountie said that the RCMP goes through CIBC Intria to avoid ‘typical banking scrutiny’ because there are no holds placed on the money.
‘That’s what we do when we need flash money for a buy,’ they said.
‘We don’t keep stashes of money around the office. When we suddenly need a large sum of money to make a buy or something, that’s the route we take.
‘I think [with the Brink’s transaction] you’ve proved with that single fact that he had a relationship with the police. He was either a CI or an agent.’
A third police source said that RCMP only uses Brink’s to pay agent sources, not CIs.
It remains unclear how and why Wortman, a dentist, acquired such a large quantity of cash. While he ran his own practice – the Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth (pictured) – there is no reason to believe that it would have required him to handle large sums of cash
A Canadian retail banking expert, who spoke to Maclean’s on condition of anonymity, said it’s unlikely that the money Wortman collected came from his own savings account, due to how that kind of transaction is typically handled.
‘When you come into my branch and you want a ton of cash, then I say, you gotta give us a couple of days,’ the expert explained.
‘We put in our Brink’s order, I order the money through Brink’s, then when the money arrives, you come back into the branch, I bring you into a back room and I count the money out for you.
‘Sending someone to Brink’s to get the money? I’ve never heard of that before.’
They continued: ‘The reason is, if I’m the banker, and you’ve deposited your savings in my bank branch, I’m responsible for making sure the money goes to the right person.
‘If you want this money, I’m going to verify your identity and document that. I can’t do that if I’m transferring the money to Brink’s.’
The banking expert said that the RCMP could avoid unwanted attention by transferring money to agents or informants through Brink’s instead of a bank.
‘You can imagine that if someone comes in with large sums of cash, that stuff is not kept quiet. You don’t want that,’ they said.
‘Maybe what the RCMP was doing is they thought they could keep things quieter simply by transferring funds via Brink’s.’
CIBC declined to comment on the transaction when approached by Maclean’s.
‘Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and the entire community as they deal with this senseless tragedy and loss. Unfortunately we are not able to comment on specific client matters,’ a CIBC spokesperson said.
Brink’s did not respond to the outlet’s inquiry about the transaction.
Husband and wife Greg and Jamie Blair (pictured) were killed in the gun rampage and tragically leave behind four children
Nurse Heather O’Brien (left) and expecting mother Kristen Beaton (right) were also killed
Family of three Jolene Oliver, Aaron ‘Friar’ Tuck, and their 17-year-old daughter Emily were wiped out in the shooting
RCMP dismisses theory that Wortman was working as an agent or informant
Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell attempted to stamp out speculation about links between Wortman and the agency during a news conference on June 4.
‘The gunman was never associated to the RCMP as a volunteer or auxiliary police officer, nor did the RCMP ever have any special relationship with the gunman of any kind,’ Campbell said.
However, the RCMP Operations Manual authorizes agency officials to conceal the identity of informants and agents unless they are dealing with the courts.
RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell (pictured) sought to stamp out speculation that Wortman was working for the agency during a news conference on June 4
‘The identity of a source must be protected at all times except when the administration of justice requires otherwise, i.e. a member cannot mislead a court in any proceeding in order to protect a source,’ the manual states.
The RCMP declined to comment on the report about Wortman’s financial transaction.
‘This is still an active, ongoing investigation,’ Cpl Jennifer Clarke, spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia RCMP, told Maclean’s last week.
‘All investigative avenues and possibilities continue to be explored, analyzed, and processed with due diligence. This is to ensure that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised. We cannot release anything more related to your questions.’
RCMP’s media relations office did say Campbell’s statement that the force never had a ‘special relationship’ with Wortman ‘still stands’.
Current and former RCMP officials have shared different opinions over the possibility that Wortman worked for the agency.
One former investigator questioned why Wortman would have turned against an agency that was paying him so much.
‘What seems inconsistent to me is why are you going to bite the hand that feeds you? If he’s getting money, and that’s a lot of money for an agent, or a CI, that part doesn’t make sense to me,’ they said.
That source also noted that if Wortman was working for the RCMP, he would eventually be expected to testify in court.
‘If he was an agent, he should show up on a witness docket,’ they said.
Another officer said of Wortman: ‘This guy always wanted to be a Mountie. He was acting like a Mountie. He was doing Mountie things. It’s clear to me that something went wrong.’
Some critics have suggested that the RCMP could be hiding its ties to Wortman (pictured at his dental practice) to avoid accusations that it mishandled the case
Investigators look into Wortman’s alleged links to Mexican cartel and Hells Angels motorcycle gang
Another theory suggests that the money Wortman withdrew came from organized crime.
Last week Maclean’s reported that authorities were looking into Wortman’s relationships with Hells Angels motorcycle gang members and with a convicted felon involved with the La Familia cartel in Mexico.
Wortman’s neighbor, Peter Alan Griffon, was arrested by Edmonton police in 2014 as part of an operation against a drug trafficking ring run by La Familia and elements of the notorious multi-national El Salvadoran gang MS-13.
Griffon pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and weapons charges in 2017 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
He was released early in 2019 and is said to have been staying with his parents in Portapique, where Wortman lived, ever since.
Sources said Griffon, who was friendly with Wortman, printed the decals on the replica RCMP cruiser Wortman used in his rampage.
The owner of the print shop where Griffon worked at the time reportedly did not give him permission to print the decals.
In May the RCMP said the owner of the shop and the person who printed the decals were cooperating with the shooting investigation. Officials did not publicly confirm that it was Griffon who printed the decals.
An undated handout photo from the RCMP shows a replica police vehicle allegedly used by Wortman during his 13-hour rampage in April
Nova Scotia attorney general insists federal-provincial inquiry is imminent
In the face of mounting criticism over the length of the investigation into the shooting, Nova Scotia Attorney General Mark Furey has repeatedly said that a federal-provincial will be opened soon.
On June 4 Furey, a former RCMP staff sergeant, announced that discussions between the province and federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair were in the ‘final stages’.
Last week Furey offered a similarly vague update, saying that most details of the joint federal-provincial inquiry had been finalized and that he’s working out a time and location for an announcement with his federal counterpart.
‘We’ve worked extensively with the federal government over the past weeks to find the right mechanism to ensure the appropriate questions are asked … to ensure the appropriate answers are gathered and from that there are recommendations that can effect change,’ Furey said.