Timeline of Nova Scotia shootings that left 19 dead, including RCMP officer

Timeline of Nova Scotia shootings that left 19 dead, including RCMP officer

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — At least 19 people have died after a shooter dressed as a police officer went on a rampage in rural Nova Scotia that started Saturday night and ended Sunday with the killer dead. Here’s a timeline of events. All times are Atlantic daylight time.


Saturday, April 18

11:30 p.m. RCMP in Nova Scotia say they are responding to a “firearms complaint” in the small, rural town of Portapique. They say people should avoid the area and lock their doors.

Supt. Chris Leather later says officers arriving at the scene found “multiple casualties” both inside and outside of the home, but the shooter was gone.

Christine Mills, a resident of Portapique, says it was a frightening night for the small town, which suddenly filled with armed officers patrolling the streets. In the morning, helicopters flew overhead searching for the suspect.


Sunday, April 19

8 a.m. RCMP say they are still on the scene and describe the investigation as an “active shooter situation.” They tell residents to stay in their homes.

“You may not see the police, but we are there with you,” the force says on Twitter.

8:55 a.m. Police publicly identify 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman as the suspected gunman and release his photo.

10:15 a.m. Police say Wortman may be wearing an RCMP uniform and be driving what appears to be an RCMP vehicle. They note the difference between his car and real RCMP vehicles is the number behind the rear passenger window: Wortman’s car number is 28B11.

10:20 a.m. RCMP say Wortman is in the Central Onslow and Debert area. They urge people to stay inside and avoid the area.

11 a.m. Police say Wortman was last seen travelling southbound on Highway 102 toward Halifax from the Brookfield area.

11:20 a.m. RCMP say Wortman has changed vehicles and is now in a silver SUV — a Chevrolet Tracker.

11:40 a.m. RCMP tweet that Wortman is now in custody. He was caught at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., where a body could be seen lying on the ground. A source familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly later confirms to The Canadian Press that the suspect has died.

4:40 p.m. The union that represents RCMP officers says one of its members was killed in the rampage. It says another officer was injured.

6 p.m. RCMP hold a news conference and confirm that Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force, was killed in the course of the manhunt. They say a second police officer was wounded and is recovering. They also say “in excess of 10” people were killed in the rampage but are unable to give an exact number.

10 p.m. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki confirms in an email to The Canadian Press that 17 people are confirmed dead in the incident.


Monday, April 20

1 p.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the rampage claimed 18 lives, not including the shooter. Tributes pour in for the victims, who include a teacher, two nurses, neighbours of the assailant and two correctional officers killed in their home.

2 p.m. RCMP say they expect the number of victims to rise as police investigate 16 crime scenes in central and northern Nova Scotia. Chief Supt. Chris Leather says five of the scenes involve burned-out buildings, and they expect more bodies to be found inside. Leather says some of the victims were known to the killer while others were not.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2020.

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