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NS Police grilled on lack of Amber Alert

NS Police grilled on lack of Amber Alert

No new fatalities have been identified in the Nova Scotia shooting and arson rampage since yesterday leaving the total dead, including the gunman at 23. Attention in Nova Scotia is now turning to the question of whether or not Police could have alerted the public more effectively to the ongoing carnage. Alerts were issued on Twitter but no amber alert was triggered. The Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the province’s alert system wasn’t used because the Emergency Management Office never received a request from RCMP to do so. “We had staff on hand in the morning to be able to do that, but it was not requested,” he said.

Police say they were working on a release for Amber alert on Sunday Morning but they learned that the suspect had already been shot dead at a gas station in Enfield NS so they abandoned the message. Still that does not explain why no message was released in the previous 10 hours when the rampage first broke out in Porapique and then continued through the night, creating 16 different crime scenes.

The first alert to the public about the series of events was sent by Nova Scotia RCMP’s Twitter account at 11:32 p.m. Saturday.

It read: “#RCMPNS is responding to a firearms complaint in the #Portapique area. (Portapique Beach Rd, Bay Shore Rd and Five Houses Rd.) The public is asked to avoid the area and stay in their homes with doors locked at this time.”

Although Wortman continued killing people for hours overnight, the province’s emergency alert system was not used to warn residents. Instead, RCMP used social media to get the word out.

After Saturday night, the next tweet came at 8:02 a.m. Sunday. It read:

“#RCMPNS remains on scene in #Portapique. This is an active shooter situation. Residents in the area, stay inside your homes & lock your doors. Call 911 if there is anyone on your property. You may not see the police but we are there with you #Portapique.”

A series of further tweets on Sunday morning identified the car Wortman was believed to be driving and reported sightings of him. There was also a Facebook post from Nova Scotia RCMP the same morning.

Asked why the province’s emergency alert system wasn’t used to notify people that a killer was on the loose, Chief Supt. Leather said Tuesday: “It’s a good question and I don’t have an answer for you at this moment.”

The RCMP had relied on Twitter because of “the instantaneous manner that we could communicate,” Leather said.

“We’re aware that we have thousands of followers in Nova Scotia and felt that it was a way, a superior way to communicate this ongoing threat,” he said.

The account has more than 91,000 followers, but many wondered whether a province-wide phone alert would have roused more people, especially those not accustomed to social media.

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