Gabriel Wortman girlfriend survived shooting rampage after domestic violence incident following initial argument at Portapique, Nova Scotia home – where denturist returned to kill seven. From there Wortman set off on 12 shooting rampage killing 22.
Canada authorities on Friday gave a press conference in which they disclosed new information as to what incited a Nova Scotia denturist to go on a mass shooting spree, leaving 22 dead last weekend before an RCMP officer shot and killed the gunman following a 12 hour shooting spree.
According to RCMP police, Gabriel Wortman, 51, was set off following an ‘argument’ with his girlfriend at a house party at Portapique, Saturday night.
The woman, who remained un-named said following the small gathering, Wortman, escalated matters, assaulting her and tying her up upon returning to Gabe Wortman’s cottage in a domestic violence case.
It was soon after that Wortman went on his shooting spree disguised as a RCMP officer, while in ‘possession of several firearms that included pistols and long-barreled weapons.’
According to the girlfriend, she told of somehow managing to escape before emerging from hiding at daybreak on Sunday, where she called 911 and informed investigators that Wortman ‘was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing an RCMP uniform.’
‘I’ve been a police officer for 30 years now and I can’t imagine a more horrific set of circumstances than looking for someone who looks like you,’ Supt. Darren Campbell said during Friday’s press conference. ‘That was obviously an advantage the suspect had on police, public, everyone he encountered.’
That assault ‘could have been the catalyst’ that unleashed his rampage, Supt. Darren Campbell said, but police are not ruling out that significant pre-planning had been involved.
Portapique domestic violence episode escalated to long hit list of victims being targeted:
Police say that after the assault on his partner, Wortman returned to the house where the party was held Saturday night and killed seven people, some of whose bodies were found on the street. That was the beginning of his hours-long rampage that ultimately ended when he was shot dead at 11.26 a.m. on Sunday.
Campbell said Wortman, who killed 22 and injured three in the attack, may have been working off a ‘hit list’ of people he knew, after several victims were known to the attacker and other people known to him had lucky escapes.
Several hours into the killing rampage, Wortman brandishing weapons knocked on the door of acquaintances who refused to answer and dialed 911 – saving their lives as the killer fled the scene, Campbell said.
Officers found a first shooting victim on the sidewalk. The person was injured and said they were walking along when a car slowed and its occupant opened fire. Police then went to the location of the party, where they found seven victims.
While surveying the small community of roughly 100 permanent inhabitants of Portapique, police discovered multiple homes on fire, including Wortman’s.
Wortman had been able to elude capture after switching vehicles and changing clothes as well as acquiring more weapons after shooting and killing an officer, Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP.
At his home, they also found three vehicles in flames, including an additional two mock police cars. Later during the press conference, Supt. Campbell said Wortman had decommissioned four police vehicles in total — the two registered vehicles at his Portapique home, a third registered one at his Halifax-area residence, and a fourth which was an unregistered vehicle that he used during the rampage.
It wasn’t until the man’s girlfriend contacted authorities early Sunday morning that she revealed Wortman having four land cruisers, starting off a search for the fourth vehicle which remained unaccounted.
‘We weren’t aware at that particular time and came, and became known to us later that he had a fourth vehicle,’ said Campbell during Friday’s press conference. ‘And that was the vehicle that he was using during his rampage.’
It was understood Wortman had a long fascination for police memorabilia and as recent as January had sought to acquire another police cruiser.
As Wortman continued his murderous route, he killed both people he knew and complete strangers.
Police confirmed Wednesday that he managed to escape from a perimeter they had set up around the rural area, but they didn’t realize he was gone until some time between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday when his girlfriend — whom they have described as a ‘key witness’ — revealed the details about the fake police car and authentic police uniform.
Many questions unanswered:
In all there were 16 crime scenes in five different rural communities throughout northern and central Nova Scotia as Wortman went on his shooting spree which only ended when authorities stumbled upon the wanted man as he was filling up fuel at a gas station in Enfield, some 60 miles from where the shooting first began. Gunfire soon erupted before Wortman was felled 13 hours after first killing his first victims.
Authorities said Wortman did not have a police record, but information later emerged of at least one run-in with the law. Nova Scotia court records confirm he was ordered to receive counseling for anger management after pleading guilty to assaulting a man in the Halifax area on Oct. 29, 2001.
The guilty plea came on Oct. 7, 2002, as his trial was about to begin. He was placed on probation for nine months, fined $50 and told to stay away from the man, and also prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon, ammunition or explosive substances.
It has since been detailed that Wortman did not have a valid firearms license (PAL). He was not one of the millions of vetted, trained, responsible Canadians legally authorized to possess/own a firearm.
Officers are now tracing how Wortman got all the firing equipment.
The RCMP has come under fire for its communications strategy as the crisis unfolded on Saturday into Sunday. The force never issued a province-wide emergency alert during the rampage, which spanned more than half a day.
Police have not yet commented on a possible motive, nor have they said whether the killing was planned.
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada. The country overhauled its gun control laws after Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989.
Before the weekend rampage, that had been Canada’s worst mass shooting.