Death Toll Rises to 22 Victims Plus the Shooter in Canadian Spree Killing

Canada Shooting

A memorial pays tribute to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year veteran of the force, along the highway in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Canadian police are investigating at 16 crime scenes after a weekend rampage by a gunman disguised as a police officer left at least 18 dead, including Stevenson, and homes in smoldering ruins in rural communities across Nova Scotia. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press

Canadian police said Tuesday they believe there are 22 victims after a gunman went on a rampage in rural communities across Nova Scotia over the weekend.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they have recovered remains from some of the locations of the fires. Earlier, authorities had said at least 18 people were killed in the 12-hour attack. The gunman also died.

Police said in an earlier news release that they believed there were 23 victims but Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Daniel Brien later clarified the death toll included 22 victims and the gunman.

As fears mounted that more victims would be found in burned out homes, a young man said that his grandparents were missing and believed dead after their log cabin was set ablaze during the attack.

Justin Zahl said he finally heard from police after frantic calls for information and seeing images of his grandparent’s home in the rural town of Portapique burned to the ground, with their cars in the driveway.

It was not immediately clear, however, if the remains police said had been found Tuesday included those of his grandparents.

Police teams were spread out across 16 locations in central and northern Nova Scotia, including the neighborhood where the 12-hour rampage began late Saturday on Portapique Beach Road, where the suspect, Gabriel Wortman, lived.

Police have warned the death toll will almost certainly rise as investigators comb through homes destroyed by fire.

Meanwhile, questions emerged Tuesday about why a public emergency alert was not sent as the rampage ensued. Police provided Twitter updates, but no alert that would have automatically popped up on cellphones.

Zahl told The Associated Press he last heard from his grandmother early Saturday evening via iMessage on her iPad.

“They were angels,” he said, adding that the couple were like parents to him and his brother. “He was the smartest man I knew, and could hold a conversation with anyone.”

He said John Zahl, in his late 60s, and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas, in her late 50s, lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before retiring to their dream home in Nova Scotia in 2017 after falling in love with the place on a visit. Justin and his brother lived with them for a while but both young men no longer do and neither was at the home during the attack, he said.

Officials said the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Wortman, also died in the weekend attack. Authorities did not provide a motive for the killings.

Authorities said Wortman wore a police uniform and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser allowing him to travel easily within a 30-mile (50-kilometer) area around Portapique, where the rampage began. A police officer was among those killed.

As the attacks unfolded, police warned residents in the neighborhood to lock their doors and stay in their basements. The town, like all of Canada, had been adhering to government advice to remain at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and most of the victims were inside homes when the attack began.

But no wider warning was issued.

Several bodies were later found inside and outside one house on Portapique Beach Road, authorities said. Bodies were also found at other locations in Nova Scotia and authorities believe the shooter may have targeted his first victims but then began attacking randomly as he drove around.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

Authorities believe Wortman acted alone. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki said he was not well known to police. She said police were still studying the crime scenes to determine what weapons were used.

Meanwhile, many questioned why a public emergency alert was not sent province-wide as the rampage ensued. Police provided Twitter updates, but no alert that would have automatically popped up on cellphones across Nova Scotia was sent — even though the system was recently used to advise people to maintain social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There should have been some provincial alert,” said David Matthews, who heard a gun shot while he was walking with his wife on Sunday. Shortly after they returned home, their phone started ringing with warnings from friends that there was an active shooter in the neighborhood, he said.

Cheryl Maloney, who lives near where one victim, 54-year-old Gina Goulet, was killed, said she was likely saved by her son, who messaged a warning Sunday morning: “Don’t leave your house. This guy is at the end of your road and he’s dressed like a cop.”

“I really could have used that provincial warning, as I walk here all the time and I’ve been in the yard all week,” she said.

comments

  1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    WTF? Psych meds? Bad acid trip?
    This is just so messed up.
    If you feel the need to kill…start with yourself…then go from there…

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Definitely not a bad trip. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing where he just cracked, unless he just happened to have a fake police car and uniform sitting around.

    2. avatar OhCanadaWho says:

      Killer was Anton Chigurh. They made a prophetic movie about the killings in 2007.

    3. avatar enuf says:

      The US Secret Service did a study on mass shooters, after Columbine. What they found has been backed up by lots of other studies since. Mass shooters do not just snap or have psychotic breaks. They evolve, slowly over time. At some point they begin to plan, even if the decision to act has not yet been made. They make preparations, sometimes very detailed requiring much fore-thought and effort.

      Most of these people leave a long trail of clues behind them.

      This guy got himself a police uniform and made his vehicle over to look like a police car. That’s planning, not a sudden act.

  2. avatar American Patriot says:

    Wow….if it wasn’t for all the gun laws it could of gotten bad!

    1. avatar California Richard says:

      Maybe that’s why they didn’t put out the cell phone alert. They didn’t want all the armed citizens to pour out of their houses and t….. ohhhhh… wait… there isn’t an armed citizenry in Canada. They’re all subjects up there. They can’t use firearms for self defense. Well, maybe if they put out the alert the subjects could be prepared to defend their castles with their firear…… oooohhhhh wait….. What good would have the alert done? Seriously… What good is information/intelligence if you can’t act on it? “EMERGENCY ALERT!!! All Canadian subjects are ordered to hide in their basements and burn to death. That is all.”

      1. avatar eelstrebor says:

        If you are living in California (or New Jersey or New York or ….) you are not far behind in having draconian gun laws.

  3. avatar stredford says:

    I don’t understand why Canada doesn’t have a law against murder, if they had a law surely the dead would still be alive? Isn’t that how the magic of laws works?

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Every Time !

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        They didn’t have “murder free zone” signs in place.

        1. avatar eelstrebor says:

          There you go. That’ll stop them.

    2. avatar eelstrebor says:

      Exactly. If laws against murder and assault won’t deter someone then what makes politicians think more laws will stop these crimes. It’s also interesting that the anti-gun crowd mocks people that offer their prayers for those who lost someone because they consider that a useless response while they call for more gun control laws that do nothing but harass legal gun owners. The additional laws only seek to make criminals out of the law abiding instead of addressing real criminal activity or mental health issues. Even if private ownership of firearms is banned, there will still be people that’ll murder others by some other method. Are they going to ban automobiles and/or sue automobile manufacturers? Not likely. Banning firearms or applying more gun laws or suing firearm manufacturers are not the answers.

  4. avatar Donttreadonme says:

    I blame Canada utself, you make it so difficult for ordinary citizens to obtain guns for self protection. And your antigun culture discourages private ownership of guns in general. You are making a country full if sheep!

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      I commented elsewhere earlier today:

      The Canadian government makes it nearly impossible for the average citizen to own a firearm for self defense, tells them to stay in their homes because of the danger and then if they expect police to come to their assistance the murderer shows up at their door dressed like RCMP.

      How many things are wrong with this picture?

      1. avatar Danel S. says:

        Ain’t that as messed up as it can get. I guess they better make some laws regarding impersonating an officer . . . oh darn I’m pretty sure laws against that exist; how come they didn’t work? Funny thing about laws; they never seem to stop anyone ? ? ?

      2. avatar GS650G says:

        The Canadian government is going to double down on this policy

  5. avatar strych9 says:

    Wait, so it was a mass burning as well?

    Was this dude a Viking or something?

    1. avatar Sven Olaff says:

      Naa, they usually rape and pillage/plunder before they set domiciles alight.

      Feel reiði Viking blað

  6. avatar anarchyst says:

    Warning residents would not have made a difference as Canadians have no right to “self-defense” as only the “crown” has that right.
    Canadians who have exercised “self-defense” have all been prosecuted under the various statutes and laws that are in force. They might or might not find a sympathetic jury, but in every case, end up being labeled as felons.
    The “crown” takes a dim view of self-defense by anyone but “crown” officials (police, etc.)

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      This is true. I remember a story where a man was being harassed by his neighbor. One night the neighbor came over with a friend and a can of gasoline, and proceeded to try and burn down his house. The homeowner responded with a shotgun, chasing off his attackers before dousing the fire–and was prosecuted. To make matters worse, this was out in one of the western provinces where the RCMP was an hour away.

    2. avatar eelstrebor says:

      My understanding is that Australia and New Zealand is the same way. That really sucks. I guess those people will just have to give up their life when confronted with a bad guy ………

    3. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Hey Canucks, it’s BOHICA time. And this time it is with the rough end of the pineapple.

  7. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    Luckily, the police were able to protect all of these people.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Help was only 12 hrs. away, who needs a gun ?

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Absolutely! But it is a damn shame they couldn’t be protected until after they were dead.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        Now you are splitting hairs!;-)

    3. avatar Ark says:

      One police officer rammed the guy’s car and was killed in the ensuing gunfight. The point does stand, but do not discount or disrespect the person who actually died attempting to stop him.

    4. avatar Chief Censor says:

      They told them to hide in their basement. Not so helpful when the man sets your house on fire.

  8. avatar John Hull says:

    As usual, the liberal anti-gun types are hard at it trying to disarm Canadians. They have already given up most of their rights as far as guns go, like most of the countries in the British Commonwealth. They don’t seem to get that disarming the public creates nothing but a victim class that no longer has the means to protect themselves from predators. One can only wonder how far this crazy bastard would’ve gotten if his victims had been able to fight back. At the very least, they would’ve had the potential of stopping him, and that’s better than just being executed. I’d rather go down fighting than just being executed.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      But according to Progressives the perpetrators are victims of society and society needs to punished for their cruelty and injustice!

  9. avatar RCC says:

    As I’ve mentioned here over the years the second and third biggest mass murders in Australia used fires not guns. Many mass murders around the world have been by fire. No one ever calls for petrol and match control.

    But leftist politicians blame guns as an easy out rather than admitting their policies don’t work.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      RCC, the largest mass murder in the United States occurred in a NYC night club. 80+ people killed. Weapon of choice? Fire.

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Wrong it was 2977 people. With 3 airplanes. How soon We forget???

        1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

          2 aircraft in NYC, not 3…

        2. avatar Darkman says:

          Don’t forget flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

        3. avatar Kendahl says:

          Four airplanes altogether. Two hit the World Trade Center in New York City, one hit the Pentagon and one went down in Pennsylvania before reaching its target.

        4. avatar GS650G says:

          Technically the Happyland disco fire is different because it was done by a single person not a team of 12. Tragedies all but an attack by a group is different because no one person could have pulled off 911 singlehandedly.

  10. avatar Steve Eisenberg says:

    No law will ever stop a bad guy from getting a gun.

  11. avatar S.Crock says:

    Any word on the weapon used or how he obtained it?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Undoubtedly the police know, since the shooter is dead and they have custody of both vehicles he used, unless he was dumping empties like the Vegas shooter did. Perhaps they are not saying because it was not an evil black rifle.

    2. avatar Ark says:

      Obviously not an “assault weapon”, we would have known that within an hour.

      At least some of the killing was done with a sidearm and ammunition taken off the body of the RCMP officer he killed.

      1. avatar A says:

        If it’s true that he took the gun from the RCMP then we need to ban all guns period. Go to using the Lathi sticks that Indian police use. Only when criminals feel the literal sting of justice bill we be able to rest in peace.

      2. avatar Chief Censor says:

        From what I hear, the lady cop tried to ram him with her car, he shot her dead, then lit the car on fire. The police arrived before her body burned up and dragged her out of the car.

    3. avatar Chief Censor says:

      I heard he had two pistols and a shotgun. He had two police cars and a police uniform. Not sure if that is verified.

      1. avatar OhCanadaWho says:

        No one needs two police cars, which are easier to get than an order of Hodge Podge in Halifax. Besides, a bad guy with a match might take one away from you, run you over, and burn your house down. You can only drove one at a time, anyway. And oh, ban guns. Yes, even the single shot pellet springers that Canadians own.

        1. avatar Dude says:

          You’re missing the point. Police car purchases should be limited to one per month. “This will save lives” -Coonman Northam

  12. avatar Dude says:

    I’m pretty sure transporting a loaded firearm is illegal in Canada. How was he able to get around that law? It’s like he didn’t respect the laws at all.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    Twitter huh?!? People are dying & you Canaduh dweebs are TWEETING! I don’t tweet. Don’t use fakebook messenger or pinterest or Instagram. Send an alert & I’ll get it! Sorry they’re dead. You are soooo acrewed…😟

  14. avatar Ark says:

    Trudeau was on TV calling for more gun control before they even knew how many people were dead.

  15. avatar Mark N. says:

    Vegas redux. No apparent motive. If you’re giving up and going out, go out with a bang. (Or more.)

    1. avatar Chief Censor says:

      The first people he killed he knew and had issues with.

  16. avatar Hannibal says:

    Here we have one reason why cops hate whackers that drive around with cars they’ve made up to look as cop-like as possible while carrying a “duty belt” (like some people use as their so-called EDC based on occasional posts here) and tacticool clothes. Some go even further (google Jeremy Dewitte). At best these guys are trying to get on a power trip by making cars move over in rush hour so they can get to Walmart faster. At worst they’re trying to victimize people.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Or they bought a cheap Crown Vic like my kids did.

      And i think dressing like a Mountie is waaay past tacticool.

  17. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Imagine if the Crown didn’t perpetuate victims for the evil besides the Crown in this case.
    And wait for it,the anti Constitutionalist,Marxist Left in this nation want the same for all of us,to be willing sheep for the slaughter.

  18. avatar GS650G says:

    How many people hid in fear while be doused their house with gasoline? Here he stands with a gun outside while striking a match.
    That fucker wouldn’t have done that in an armed neighborhood. Kinda easy when people hide in the basement.

    1. avatar Chief Censor says:

      The family he killed used to have guns but the father decided he didn’t want such things in his house. He got in an argument with the killer in the past. I heard they were the first to get killed.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      They were told to hide in the basements by what passes for a .gov in canada.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        And the parliament hid in place in their bunker too?

  19. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Arson, impersonating an officer and murder. Answer GUN CONTROL. Make everyone who did not have anything whatsoever to do with the perp pay for his crimes. That’s totally insane. How about blaming the rats who limited citizen access to the firearms capable of dealing with a murdering madman? Blame the self serving politicans who reside high above the fray and enjoy 24/7 armed secuity. If those gun control gutless wonders gave a damn about you and yours they would see to it you have the proper means to defend you and yours.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Your point?

      Leftist have an agenda and they do stick to it. Impervious to logic and common sense.

      Or decency.

  20. avatar Mountie says:

    But neighbors have painted a different picture of the killer, revealing he suffered an alcohol problem and his denture clinic, the Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth which they say made him a millionaire, was forced to mothball during the coronavirus lockdown.

    It was also revealed today that the gunman had an obsession with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, known as ‘mounties’.

    This infatuation, which his school yearbook showed spawned from an early age, reportedly saw him collect a haul of mountie gear including decommissioned cop cars he snapped up at auction.

    Nathan Staples, who lives in nearby Great Village and was approached by Wortman a few months ago asking if he would sell his own decommissioned cop car, told the Globe and Mail: ‘He was one of those freaky guys, he was really into police memorabilia.’

  21. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    If anyone tried any of that crap in my neighborhood they’d be dead in ten seconds. EVERYBODY is armed. EVERYBODY carries. EVERYBODY hunts, so they know how to shoot.

    1. avatar MLee says:

      You mean you wouldn’t stand around playing pocket pool while some shit-head burns your house down with you in it? Oh but why eh?

      I have to agree though, I didn’t spend what I spent on what I bought just to allow some schmuck to victimize me or anyone else in my company or on my street. I have been here 40 years and I’ll be damned if that would go down while I’m on duty. Ain’t happening.

  22. avatar possum says:

    22 dead, that guys score is better then the guys here in the U.S. , that’s kinda depressing, seems all the powder Americans burn they’d be better shots. Okay America let’s get out there and show them Canucks we are still top dog when it comes to shooting people.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      We need to practice on possums first.

      1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

        Well, there’s no shortage of those critters… 😉

      2. avatar arc says:

        I prefer Armadillos, armored rats that destroy everything they touch. Opossums at least eat up ticks and are good for something.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          A possum is a buzzard with fur.

          Except they will also eat chickens, puppies, and small children.

          Dont know about ticks. I dont think ticks can live on fetid possum flesh.

      3. avatar possum says:

        Curse the spinning wheels of a rattle trap Ford pickup

  23. avatar James says:

    Be prepared for more of this as more disaffected single white men shoot up their enemies in frustration especially with the virus causing more stress

    1. avatar Debbie W. says:

      James it is easy to see you have a whole lot in common with the perp…you’re both incredibly stupid.

    2. avatar MLee says:

      Yeah James, I’ll be prepare myself for that to happen as much as I prepare for the Yellowstone Super Volcano to erupt or a comet hitting the planet and wiping us all out.

  24. avatar 2aguy says:

    Still no weapon type……

    1. avatar Arc says:

      Something something phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range… I think.

    2. avatar OhCanadaWho says:

      One was ran over by a car, another shot , and 19 burned. Ban guns.

  25. avatar MLee says:

    I guess when they ban the guns, then they’ll have to ban fires and after that…you won’t be able to carry more than one gallon of gas at one time in a container, of course then comes knives because, well knives!
    That should cure the problem of when someone goes nuts and wants to kill people.

  26. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Problem is…there are more azzhats like him out there…there always is. Never open the doors for anyone you don’t know well. Never stop for any police officer until you are in a populated area and you are on the phone to someone you know or to 911, etc. You’ve got just as much right to go home at the end of the day as anyone. No judge is going to condemn you for being prudent and looking out for yourself.
    They’ve run your tags, they know if the vehicle was stolen, they know who the insured is and they have a driver’s licence number, ID, etc.
    Most police officers are damned good people and some are azzhats and obviously some are fake cops. Nothing worse than a crooked cop and nothing lower than someone impersonating law enforcement. May the good decent people who had everything taken from them live forever in the beyond. May the slug responsible burn in hell….Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

  27. avatar CarlosT says:

    The response to this tragedy is clear. Canada must ban fire. Not one more.

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