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Nova Scotia death toll rises to 23: RCMP provide more details

Nova Scotia death toll rises to 23: RCMP provide more details

Nova Scotia RCMP issued a detailed chronology to the shooting and arson rampage that terrorized the province last weekend. They now confirm that they have identified 23 fatalities including a 17 year old. Some of the victims were discovered as police sifted through burned houses. There were at least five structure fires and several vehicle fires.

Following is an edited version of the RCMP press release:

The Nova Scotia RCMP continues to investigate the incidents that began on April 18 in Portapique. The investigation is detailed and complex. The investigative team is focused on learning more about this very tragic situation, including accurate victim information and whether others may have aided the suspect.

The following is an account of what we know so far about the incidents on April 18 and 19:On Saturday, April 18, Nova Scotia RCMP members responded to a possible shooting incident at a home in Portapique in Colchester County. When police arrived, members located several casualties inside and outside of a home. They did not, however, locate a suspect. Officers secured the area and began to search for the suspect. Residents of the immediate area were being evacuated by police while the search was ongoing.

The initial search for a suspect led to multiple sites in the immediate area, including structures and vehicles that were on fire. Gabriel Wortman as identified as the suspect and the search for him continued overnight and into the morning of Sunday, April 19 through multiple communities in Colchester County. The search ended on April 19 when Gabriel Wortman was located by members at a service station in Enfield. Wortman was shot by police and later died. This matter has been referred to SiRT.

Nova Scotia RCMP are currently at 16 specific locations in the communities of Portapique, Wentworth, Debert, Shubenacadie/Milford and Enfield to gather evidence and learn more about what occurred at each location. We believe there to be 23 victims, including a 17-year-old. All other victims are adults, both men and women. Among the victims is Cst. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP. Some of the victims were known to Gabriel Wortman and were targeted while others were not known to the suspect.

Attached are questions and answers that provide more information on the tragic incidents of April 18 and 19.

More information will be provided when available.

Q: How many victims are there?

A: There are 23 deceased, including a 17-year-old. All other victims are adults, both men and women. Among the victims is Cst. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP.

Q: How many people were injured?

A: One of our members, Cst. Chad Morrison, was injured and we have information that other members of the public have been injured as well.

Q: Who was Cst. Heidi Stevenson?

A: Heidi was a devoted mother to 13-year-old Connor, and 11-year-old Ava, a wife to Dean, and loving daughter. She was incredibly proud to be a member of the RCMP and of the work she did as a part of this organization.

Q: Where can the public send condolences for Cst. Stevenson’s family?

A: Condolences can be sent to RCMP.Condolences-Condoleances.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

Q: Were the victims known to the suspect?

A: Some of the victims were known to Gabriel Wortman and were targeted while others were not known to him. We will not be providing more information on how the victims may have been known to Gabriel Wortman.

Q: What should I do if I’m worried a loved one is a victim?

A: If you are concerned about a loved one, please contact your nearest police detachment. We will get back to you and work to locate your loved one. Our members are working with the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service to identify victims and connect with their families as quickly as possible. I can assure you that as soon as we identify victims, we are notifying their next of kin.

The course of events

Q: Where did it happen?

A: This tragedy began in Portapique. Victims were also found in Wentworth, Debert, Shubenacadie/Milford and Enfield.

Q: Was this a planned event?

A: That is part of our ongoing investigation.

Q: Why did he do this?

A: We aren’t speculating on Gabriel Wortman’s motives. Trying to answer this question is part of the investigation.

Q: Were there fires related to this?

A: There were more than five structure fires and vehicle fires related to the events.

Q: Were there victims in any of the fires?

A: Yes, we have recovered remains from some of the locations of the fires.

Q: What did the first call come in as?

A: The call RCMP first responded to was a firearms complaint.

A : Nous avons reçu une plainte concernant des armes à feu.

Q: How much time passed between when the initial call came in and when Gabriel Wortman was apprehended?

A: The firearms call came in at approximately 10:30 p.m. on April 18 and Gabriel Wortman was shot at approximately noon on April 19.

Q: How was Gabriel Wortman located?

A: The search for Gabriel Wortman ended on April 19 when he was located by members at a service station in Enfield. Gabriel Wortman was shot by police and later died.

Q: What has the investigation involved so far?

A: There are several aspects of the investigation, including interviews, processing crime scenes, analytical work and searches of Gabriel Wortman’s properties.

Q: Given this incident, how can I trust that someone is a real RCMP officer?

A: This was an unprecedented event and as soon as we learned that the suspect was possibly in a replica police cruiser and wearing what appeared to be an RCMP uniform, we immediately informed the public. Nova Scotians can rest assured that the RCMP is committed to keeping the public informed and instructing Nova Scotians on how to protect themselves from threats to public safety.

If you notice anything suspicious, or if anything just seems “off”, please call police and we will investigate. In an emergency, call 911.

SiRT Investigations

Q: Has anything been referred to SiRT?

A: Two matters, including the death of the suspect, are being investigated by SiRT. As these are now SiRT matters, we will not be providing more detail.

About Gabriel Wortman

Q: Was Gabriel Wortman an RCMP employee?

A: Gabriel Wortman was not an RCMP employee.

Q: Did Gabriel Wortman have a criminal record?

A: No.

Q: Is Gabriel Wortman the only suspect in this investigation?

A: This is part of our ongoing investigation.

Q: Was Gabriel Wortman driving an authentic police cruiser?

A: One of the vehicles Gabriel Wortman was driving was a very real look-alike RCMP vehicle.

Q: You released a photo of the car Gabriel Wortman was driving that resembled a police cruiser. How was it obtained?

A: This is part of the investigation.

Q: Was Gabriel Wortman wearing an authentic police uniform?

A: Yes, he was.

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