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Portapique, N.S., April 24: Scott Paul and Jane Benvie embrace at a memorial to the mass-shooting victims.

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

The latest

  • Nova Scotians laid the mass-shooting victims to rest this past weekend, and an online vigil Friday brought musicians, athletes and public figures together to remember them. But with distancing rules still in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, any large in-person tribute will likely wait until the pandemic has eased. That’s been unusual for the “casserole culture” of rural Nova Scotia, where communal grief is a deeply rooted custom.
  • During the 12-hour manhunt, the RCMP used Twitter to warn the public instead of the province’s emergency-alert system, a strategy that’s been widely criticized, but which also closely follows the Mounties’ playbook for last year’s pursuit of two killers in Western Canada and the 2014 Moncton shootings. The Globe and Mail’s Patrick White and Colin Freeze reconstructed the timeline of their decisions and explained how the alert system works.
  • Twenty-two people and the gunman are dead, including a Mountie, a teacher, a nurse and at least five married couples. Here are The Globe and Mail’s profiles of the victims, and some background on what audio recordings from first responders tell us about the efforts to save them.


How the attack unfolded

Portapique

Que.

Truro

Minas Basin

Nfld.

N.B.

N.S.

Brookfield

U.S.

Detail

102

Atlantic Ocean

Enfield: manhunt

ends with death

of 51-year-old

suspect

NOVA SCOTIA

Dartmouth

103

Halifax

0

20

KM

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

Portapique

Que.

Truro

Minas Basin

Nfld.

N.B.

N.S.

Brookfield

U.S.

Detail

102

Atlantic Ocean

Enfield: Manhunt

ends with death

of 51-year-old

suspect

NOVA SCOTIA

Dartmouth

Halifax

103

0

20

KM

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP

CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

Portapique

Que.

Truro

Minas Basin

Nfld.

N.B.

N.S.

Brookfield

Detail

U.S.

102

Atlantic Ocean

Enfield: Manhunt ends

with death of 51-year-

old suspect

NOVA SCOTIA

Dartmouth

Halifax

103

0

20

KM

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

Portapique is a beachside town of about 100 residents on Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Bay, about a 90-minute drive from Halifax. Records show the suspect owned two large properties on Portapique Beach Road, where police allege that he argued with, physically abused and confined his common-law partner on Saturday, April 18. She escaped into the woods before the gunman’s rampage began later that night, and is now a “significant key witness” in the investigation, a police spokesman said.

RCMP released this picture of the suspect's vehicle, pointing out the unique number the public could use to tell it apart from real RCMP cars.

RCMP Nova Scotia/Handout via REUTERS

Police said they answered 911 calls reporting gunfire in Portapique and arrived around 10:30 p.m. (AT) to find houses on fire, 13 people dead and no suspect in sight. He was apparently dressed in a full police uniform and vest and driving a Ford Taurus disguised as an RCMP vehicle, which he used to continue his killing spree elsewhere the next morning.

The RCMP announced the suspect’s identity in an 8:54 a.m. tweet, warning the public of his reported whereabouts and urging them to stay away. At no point in the 12-hour manhunt did the RCMP use the province’s emergency-alert system to warn locals on their cellphones, though the province’s Emergency Management Office eventually sent an alert on their own.

In Shubenacadie, he encountered the real RCMP. One officer initially mistook him for a fellow Mountie, but the suspect fired on him and the wounded officer drove himself to a nearby hospital, according to an April 24 news conference reconstructing the timeline of events. Another RCMP constable in Shubenacadie rammed the suspect’s car, and as both cars were burning, she died in an exchange of gunfire. The police union called this a life-saving decision: Without his replica vehicle, the gunman was no longer able to exploit the public’s trust to get close to more potential victims.

The RCMP finally caught the suspect, who had by now changed clothes and was now driving a silver Chevrolet Tracker SUV, when he and an RCMP car happened to stop for fuel at the same Irving Big Stop gas station in Enfield. A gun battle ensued and the suspect died at the scene.

The victims. Top row: Emily Tuck, Jolene Oliver and Aaron (Friar) Tuck; Heather O'Brien; Tom Bagley; and Lisa McCully. Middle row: Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins; Gina Goulet; and Kristen Beaton. Bottom row: John Zahl and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas; RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, Jamie and Greg Blair; and Corrie Ellison.

The dead

The Nova Scotia rampage is the deadliest mass shooting in Canada, surpassing 1989′s Montreal massacre, in which a gunman killed 14 people at École Polytechnique and then himself. Here’s what we know so far about the victims. For more detailed profiles of each person, read here.

  • Constable Heidi Stevenson: A 23-year RCMP veteran from Nova Scotia. She leaves a husband and two children, aged 13 and 10.
  • John Zahl and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas: A Portapique couple whose home next door to the gunman’s property was burned to the ground.
  • Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins: A married couple who worked as correctional officers at the Springhill Institution and Nova Institution for Women, respectively.
  • Jolene Oliver, Aaron (Friar) Tuck and Emily Tuck: A couple and their 17-year-old daughter, residents of Portapique.
  • Jamie and Greg Blair: A married couple whose company sold and installed natural-gas and propane units in the region. Their aunt, Judy MacBurnie, said they had two young children together and Mr. Blair leaves two sons from a previous relationship.
  • Joy and Peter Bond: A Portapique couple confirmed dead by family members on Facebook.
  • Lisa McCully: An elementary-school teacher identified in a Facebook post by her sister as among the dead.
  • Gina Goulet: A denturist in Shubenacadie, a small town between Truro and Halifax. She had survived cancer twice, according to her daughter Amelia Butler.
  • Dawn Madsen and Frank Gulenchyn: A couple who had moved to Portapique from Oshawa, Ont., where Ms. Madsen had recently retired as a long-term care home employee. They leave two sons.
  • Heather O’Brien: A Truro nurse whose death was confirmed in a Facebook post by her daughter.
  • Corrie Ellison: A social-service worker from Truro. Family friends said he was visiting his father in Portapique when he was killed.
  • Joey Webber: A 37-year-old logger who grew up on his family’s homestead near Wyses Corner. He leaves three daughters and his partner.
  • Lillian Hyslop: A married retiree with children who was killed on her morning walk in Wentworth, where she lived.
  • Tom Bagley: A 70-year-old military veteran and retired firefighter. He leaves a wife and daughter.
  • Kristen Beaton: A young wife and mother who also worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses as a continuing care assistant in Debert.

A Halifax regional police investigator is seen in a suite above the Dartmouth denture clinic owned by the suspect.

Tim Krochak/Getty Images

The suspect

Who he was: Gabriel Wortman, 51, was a denturist who practiced at several clinics in Nova Scotia. Neighbours told The Globe and Mail that his business, Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth, was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What he had: Acquaintances and neighbours said he was obsessed with law enforcement and its memorabilia, and that he refurbished old police cruisers that he bought at auction. The vehicle used in the attack was a meticulous replica of an RCMP cruiser, right down to the rims, decals and lights. Police believe his long guns were obtained in the United States, and he also had a Canadian-registered handgun, but no firearms license of his own.

Why he did it: No motive has yet been given. Police have determined that he acted alone, but are still investigating whether anyone may have helped him in the leadup to the attack. Any Nova Scotians with information about him or the attack are encouraged to call a dedicated police tip line, 1-833-570-0121.

Canada and the world in grief


Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Greg Mercer, Alex Cyr, Andrea Woo, Colin Freeze, Michelle Carbert, Jana G. Pruden, Janice Dickson, Laura Stone, Molly Hayes and The Canadian Press


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