TORONTO — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police shot and killed a suspect Sunday morning after the man carried out a bloody 12-hour rampage that tore through a rural community in northern Nova Scotia and resulted “in excess of 10” fatalities, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in Canadian history.
Officers arrived at a “chaotic” scene on Saturday evening at a house in rural Portapique where they found multiple “casualties” and spent the following hours tracking the gunman across the province.
Police said at a Sunday evening press conference that there are dead and injured people in different locations across the province.
One RCMP officer, Cst. Heidi Stevenson, was killed by the gunman when she was responding to the incident.
The shooter suspect was by police as Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year-old was described as a bald Caucasian man just over six-feet tall with green eyes and was reportedly wearing an RCMP uniform for at least part of a 12-hour rampage, which police say could point to the action being planned.
However, the violence that took place points to the victims being killed on a random basis, Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Chris Leather told reporters. Some of the victims were not related to Wortman.
Leather was pressured on the number of deaths, but said that the investigation is “ongoing” and that there would be more details to follow.
According to a Reuters factbox in 2018, the Nova Scotia mass shooting is already one of Canada’s worst.
“This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters earlier on Sunday.
The Mounties first informed the public just after 7 a.m. that there was an active shooter situation after responding to a “firearms complaint” in the Portapique area Saturday evening.
The RCMP initially said that Wortman was driving one of the police force’s vehicles but later identified the vehicle as a silver Chevy Tracker. It was last spotted in the Milford area before his arrest was announced.
The RCMP said the suspect was headed southbound on Highway 102, which leads from Truro to Halifax. The Mounties had set up a blockade in the southbound lanes of the highway north of the Halifax airport.
Tristan Geizer, a construction worker who lives in the provincial capital Halifax, told Porter Medium in a message that he was “shocked”.
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen very often, and for it to happen so close to home [is] pretty unnerving,” Geizer added after the suspect was arrested.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a tweet Sunday morning that he is “monitoring this carefully” and encouraged “all residents to listen to the direction provided by local law enforcement.”
He added that he was “deeply concerned”.