Canadians mourned the shocking rampage that left at least 18 dead in rural communities across Nova Scotia, after a gunman disguised as a police officer opened fire on people hunkered down in their homes, setting houses ablaze in the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history, according to AP News.
Officials said the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, also died in the weekend attack. Police did not provide a motive for the killings.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather told a news conference Monday that police expect to find more victims once they are able to comb through all the crime scenes, some of which were left in smoldering ruins.
Leather said police teams were spread out at 16 crime scenes in central and northern Nova Scotia. He said some of the victims knew Wortman and some didn’t.
The dead included a policewoman. Another officer was wounded by gunfire and was recovering at home, Leather said.
The 12-hour rampage began late Saturday in the rural town of Portapique, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Halifax, where police told residents overnight to lock their doors and stay in their basements. Due to the coronavirus pandemic most of the victims were inside their homes when the attack began.
Several bodies were later found inside and outside one house on Portapique Beach Road, the street where the suspect lived, authorities said.
Authorities said the suspected gunman wore a police uniform at one point and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser.
He said at one point the suspect was forced to abandon his car and then carjacked other cars to continue to “circulate around the province steps ahead of our investigators.”
According to his high school yearbook, Wortman long had a fascination with the Mounties.“Gabe’s future may including being an RCMP officer,” the yearbook profile said.
Wortman, who owned a denture practice in in the city of Dartmouth, near Halifax, lived part time in Portapique, according to residents of the town.
Wortman is listed as a denturist — a person who makes dentures — in the city of Dartmouth, near Halifax, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. Atlantic Denture Clinic, the practice Wortman owned, was closed for the past month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police initially said Wortman had been arrested Sunday at a gas station in Enfield, outside Halifax, but later said he had died.
It was not clear how, and they did not provide further details, although one police official said that there was an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police at one point.
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada. The country overhauled its gun-control laws after gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989. Before this weekend’s rampage, that had been the country’s worst mass killing.
Trudeau said Monday his government would introduce further gun control legislation prohibiting military-style assault weapons, a measure that had already been planned before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the current parliamentary session.