RCMP investigators have seized and searched the computer, cellphone, tablet and navigation devices belonging to the gunman responsible for the mass shootings that terrorized Nova Scotia last month, newly released documents reveal.
It’s not known what police found on those electronics as they probe the killer’s private communications, since those search warrants are heavily redacted, but it shows how investigators hope his personal devices might help answer some key questions about the case.
The gunman killed 22 people across five rural Nova Scotia communities and burned homes during his 13-hour rampage that began late on April 18, and ended when he was shot dead by police at a gas station north of Halifax. RCMP investigators are still trying to understand his motive, learn how he obtained several of the guns used, and whether he had help in the months leading up the attack.
The RCMP documents released Monday say police seized a Samsung cellphone, Toshiba laptop, Acer tablet, a data-storage card and a Garmin global positioning device from the gunman’s denture clinic in Dartmouth on April 20, the day after he was killed by police.
The warrants also say police have obtained data from the infotainment systems inside two vehicles seized from the gunman’s clinic: a 2013 Ford Taurus and a 2015 Mercedes. Police say these systems can store data regarding navigation, texting, phone calls and internet-enabled content including traffic conditions and weather. They’ve also sought documents and data from telecom service provider Telus.
The warrants say police were looking for firearms, ammunition, explosives, chemicals, surveillance systems, computers, electronic devices, police-related clothing, human remains and “documents related to planning mass murder events” and the acquisition of weapons.
Some of the items recovered from the gunman’s main residence in Portapique, where police found an ammunition box with a burned $100 bill, a black plastic bag, a burned receipt box and burned pieces of a rifle, the new documents say.
The RCMP documents also show how the gunman used a New Brunswick-based company to register his collection of used police vehicles, adding an extra layer of mystery for investigators.
When the killer was charged with speeding near his Portapique cottage in February, he was driving a 2003 white Ford Taurus registered to a company called Berkshire Broman Corp., which he bought in 2010. Police say that same company also held the ownership for two other decommissioned police vehicles, bought at government auction.
The millionaire denturist also used a numbered company out of New Brunswick to operate a second denture clinic in Halifax, according to legal documents unsealed by Justice Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie.
Last week, police evidence – presented in an information-to-obtain or ITO request to a judge for a search warrant – revealed witnesses told investigators the gunman was abusive and paranoid, boasted about firearms and recently stockpiled gasoline. It also confirmed the RCMP were told the killer was driving a replica police cruiser almost 12 hours before they alerted the public, and that he had a history of domestic abuse.
The gunman was frequently paranoid and controlling, witnesses told investigators, describing him as a “psychopath” and “sociopath” with above-average intelligence. While he often dressed as a police officer, collected RCMP memorabilia and built a look-alike police cruiser, he also distrusted police and felt he was better than them, his common-law wife said, according to a statement given to the RCMP.
On Monday, Justice MacQuarrie agreed to unseal six further legal documents connected to the mass shooting case, as well as the associated search warrants and a list of any items seized from the gunman’s property. The release is the latest in a continuing legal application from several media outlets, including The Globe and Mail, arguing that information is in the public interest.
With a report from The Canadian Press
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.