Canada mass shooting started with assault on girlfriend

  • A woman pays her respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, Nova Scotia on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Royal Canadian Mounted Police say multiple people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

  • In this Wednesday, April 22, 2020, photo, a couple place a flag at a memorial in Portapique, Nova Scotia, following Saturday's shooting rampage. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

  • A soldier talks with an RCMP officer at a checkpoint in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The military has provided personnel, modular tents, lights, tables, chairs and generators to a number of locations in the province. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

  • In this Wednesday, April 22, 2020, photo, people pay their respects at a memorial in Portapique, Nova Scotia, following Saturday's shooting rampage. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

  • A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, Nova Scotia, on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Royal Canadian Mounted Police say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove in a vehicle marked to seem like a patrol car, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators search for evidence at the location where Constable Heidi Stevenson was killed along the highway in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Police say the man who went on a murderous rampage through five Nova Scotia communities was likely using unlicensed firearms, and investigators are trying find out how he obtained illegal weapons. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP) Andrew Vaughan

Associated Press
Published: 4/24/2020 3:54:52 PM
Modified: 4/24/2020 3:54:38 PM

TORONTO — Canada’s worst mass shooting erupted from an argument between the gunman and his girlfriend, who survived the attack, police confirmed Friday.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Supt. Darren Campbell said the weekend shooting rampage started with an assault by the suspect on his girlfriend and ended with 22 people dead in communities across central and northern Nova Scotia.

“She did manage to escape. That could well have been the catalyst of events,” Campbell said.

Authorities are also not discounting the suspect planned some of the murders.

Campbell said the girlfriend hid overnight in the woods from the suspect, who has been identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman.

Police have said Wortman acted alone in the shooting spree that killed 22 people in several rural communities.

Campbell said they found 13 deceased victims in the rural community of Portapique, a quiet community of 100 residents where the suspect lived part time. He said when police arrived, they discovered a man shot. The man reported he was driving when someone in what looked like a police car shot him. He survived and was transported to hospital.

They were several homes on fire, including the suspect’s, when police arrived in the community. Campbell said the suspect had a pistol that was acquired in Canada and several long barreled guns that were obtained in the United States. Police found several dead in and outside homes in Portapique.

Authorities initially thought the suspect might have committed suicide and was in one of the homes that was on fire, he said.

Campbell said at about 6:30 a.m., Wortman’s girlfriend emerged from hiding in the woods, called 911 and gave police detailed information about the suspect including that he was driving a mock police car and was in police uniform.

More than an hour later, police started receiving 911 calls more than 35 miles away. Campbell said the suspect killed three people he knew and set their house on fire.

He also shot a woman on the street and pulled cars over and shot and killed people, Campbell said.

He later shot and injured a male police officer in his car. The officer managed to escape and survived. Campbell then said there was a collision between a female officer’s police car and the gunman’s mock police car. He shot and killed the officer and took her gun. Campbell said he then killed a passerby and took their SUV.

He then drove to a house and killed a woman he knew before removing his police uniform and stealing her car. He then drove to get gas and was shot by a police officer who happened to be at the gas station refueling.

The suspect was shot to death at 11:26 on Sunday morning, about 13 hours after the attacks began.


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