Canada: 16 killed in country's worst shooting, attacker dead
Dressed as a police officer, a lone gunman killed at least 16 in Canada this weekend, making it one of the worst violent crimes the country has seen in recent history. The victims include an officer of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police service of Canada. After hours of a rampage, the attacker died, multiple reports said. Here's what went down.
The horrifying incident started on Saturday night when cops were alerted of firing in Portapique, a rural community in Nova Scotia province. Officers asked residents to lock their homes and stay indoors. As per NBC News, officers went up to a home at Portapique after many 911 calls. At the residence, they found several bodies but not the suspect.
Thereafter, the shooter, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, remained at large and was hunted after a 12-hour long manhunt. Reportedly, he wore a police uniform and disguised his vehicle to appear like a police car. In a bid to zero in on Wortman, police told residents, "The suspect's car is 28B11, behind rear passenger window. If you see 28B11 call 911 immediately."
Officers pursued Wortman throughout the province for hours. More firings were reported from other spots. RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather told CNN he was found on Sunday at a truck shop in Enfield. Wortman is believed to have changed cars and also drove a "small silver Chevrolet SUV". Officials told New York Times that Wortman, a denturist by profession, knew some victims.
The fact that Wortman painted his vehicle like a police one showed the rampage was planned. Though the act wasn't random initially, it became one as time passed. Among those who passed away was Constable Heidi Stevenson, a veteran who worked with the force for 23 years. She was a mother of two. Another male officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Commanding Officer Lee Bergerman addressed the press on Sunday and looked visibly shaken. "Today is a devastating day for Nova Scotia and will remain etched in the minds of many for years to come," she said. Tom Taggart, a councilor representing Portapique in Municipality of Colchester, said, "It's absolutely unbelievable this could happen in our community. I never dreamt this would happen here."
And Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia, said, "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". He made the remarks at a COVID-19 press meet. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the shooting."
The incident is being probed by the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT), which said in a statement that a "confrontation" occurred in Enfield and officers fired. The suspect was found dead there. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said, "We are in the early stages of an incredibly detailed and complex investigation that has forever changed countless lives." At this point, no "terrorist intent" was established.
Courtesy stricter gun laws as compared to neighboring United States, mass shootings are rare in Canada. The last such massacre happened in 1989 in a college in Quebec. The gunman asked all men to leave the classroom and opened fire killing 14 women.