Witness said killer in N.S. mass shooting ‘recently’ acquired gun from estate

Witness said killer in N.S. mass shooting ‘recently’ acquired gun from estate

HALIFAX — A portion of a witness statement released Friday says the gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia had ”recently” acquired one of his firearms in Canada from the estate of a friend who died.

The disclosure following a court hearing still doesn’t provide the calibre or model of the five weapons that Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour rampage.

Crown prosecutors voluntarily released a few previously hidden details to a media consortium after a court hearing, though large sections of the court documents remain redacted.

The media group, which includes The Canadian Press, is seeking wider disclosure of the evidence police used to obtain search warrants related to the April 18-19 mass shooting.

The RCMP had said in a June 4 news conference that of the five firearms possessed by the killer, three were obtained illegally from the United States and one was obtained illegally in Canada “through the estate of a deceased associate.”

A witness statement to RCMP taken on April 19 — blacked out prior to Friday’s release — says, “Gabriel Wortman just recently acquired guns from a friend who passed away.” The witness, whose identity is redacted, also told officers he thought Wortman owned a bulletproof vest and collected guns.

And the person described Wortman’s property on Portapique Beach Road as having a large garage with rooms upstairs. “There are lots of motorcycles and a RCMP car that Gabriel was fixing up,” the statement said.

The Canadian Press has emailed the RCMP to ask for the date Wortman acquired the Canadian firearm, but a spokeswoman said she didn’t expect to be able to provide a response to that and other questions until next week.

The RCMP had earlier confirmed the killer’s firearms included two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles but declined further details due to the ongoing investigation.

Gun control advocates have said details about the firearms used are important to the discussion surrounding the federal government’s recent move to ban 1,500 types of military-style assault firearms, and other firearms legislation.

The fifth firearm was taken from RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson after Wortman’s vehicle ran into hers and he killed her in an exchange of gunfire.

The Crown also released a sentence from a witness statement saying the gunman purchased material used for the RCMP decals on his replica vehicle on July 3, about nine months before his rampage.

On April 28, RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell told a news conference the 51-year-old denturist was believed to have obtained the vehicle last fall and outfitted it with the decals then.

The court also released a seventh search warrant, with large portions blacked out, in which officers sought records for Wortman’s landline telephone and a cellular phone.

It notes Wortman didn’t own a cellphone and he had smashed another person’s cellphone, which police believed was in the burnt remains of his home in Portapique, N.S.

“The historical call details in the possession of Bell Aliant … will show who Gabriel Wortman and (name blanked out) had been in contact with prior to Gabriel Wortman commencing his killing,” the officer said in the April 24 document.

“The information will assist in determining if there are any co-conspirators in this tragic event.”

The RCMP said in an email they will respond next week to a question about whether they have determined if there were co-conspirators.

Each of the applications for a search warrant is accompanied by a grim recounting of the events that started on the night of April 18, when the killer assaulted his common-law spouse at his seasonal home in the village of Portapique.

Armed with several semi-automatic weapons, he set fire to properties and killed 13 people in Portapique before he left the area, disguised as a Mountie and driving the vehicle that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

He killed another nine people the following day in several other communities in northern and central Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer fatally shot him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique.

His victims included an RCMP officer, two nurses, two correctional officers, a family of three, a teacher and some of his neighbours in Portapique.

There have been numerous calls for a public inquiry to investigate how police handled one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history, including pleas from relatives of victims, politicians and more than 30 professors at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Last week, Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister Mark Furey indicated some form of federal-provincial review or inquiry was in the works, but the specific nature of the investigation remained unclear.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clearview Public Schools has honoured Cindy Zimmermann as the recipient of the 2020 Clearview Star Award

Zimmerman has also gone with Teachers Across Borders to share her talents for a semester in Vietnam

Library column: October is only a few days away!

Culture Days will be back next September, so keep watch for future announcements

Stettler Food Bank in solid shape thanks to community support

A hike in demand is expected in the coming months

UPDATED: Red Deer has nine active COVID-19 cases

Number of cases increased by 107 Friday

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

“My world exploded,” says Bentley-area farmer who’s swather was struck by a motorist

Dennis Duncan was a mile from home when his swather was struck by another travelling at high speeds

Local feral cat rescue looking for support

Bottle drive being held in Bashaw

UPDATE: Last kidnapping suspect arrested

Amber Knickle has been arrested and remains in police custody

Most Read