What we know about a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, Canada

A shooter killed at least 13 people across Nova Scotia, Canada, police said Sunday.

The suspect, a 51-year-old man, died shortly after being apprehended in Enfield, Nova Scotia, a town about 20 miles north of Halifax. Police believe he is responsible for a series of shootings that began in Portapique — a small town about 60 miles north of Halifax — around 10:30 pm local time Saturday night.

The suspect then is believed to have “moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides,” according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather.

For at least a few hours on Sunday morning, the suspect was disguised as a police officer. Officials aren’t yet sure of his motive, but Leather said the “fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act.”

The suspect was ultimately apprehended at an Enfield gas station Sunday morning, after having switched vehicles. He was arrested nearly 12 hours after police in Portapique first received a complaint about “a person with firearms” Saturday night.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, particularly when compared to the United States, in large part because of stringent gun laws put in place after a 1989 shooting that left 14 people dead. Now, a Canadian wishing to own a gun must register it and undergo training, a risk assessment, and a background check. It’s not yet clear whether the suspect’s weapon was registered.

The story is still developing. Here’s what we know, and don’t, so far.

What we know

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said “in excess of 10 people have been killed” in a series of shootings that took place over more than 12 hours Saturday night and Sunday morning. At least 13 people are believed to have been killed.
  • At least one of the suspect’s victims was a police officer, Const. Heidi Stevenson, who had been on the force for 23 years.
  • At least one other officer was wounded.
  • The shooting began Saturday night; police in Portapique, Nova Scotia received a call about “a person with firearms” at 10:30 pm ADT.
  • Residents were instructed to shelter in place; according to the Associated Press, police found “many dead” inside a Portapique home.
  • A number of homes were lit on fire; residents reported seeing at least two burning police vehicles as well.
  • By early Sunday morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) believed the suspect was near a campground in Glenholme, about 10 miles east of Portapique.
  • The RCMP tweeted Saturday morning the suspect appeared to be dressed as a police officer, and was in possession of what appeared to be am RCMP vehicle — it stressed, however, that the suspect was not a member of the mounted police.
  • The suspect traveled south for much of Sunday morning, and acquired a new vehicle somewhere near Milford, a town about 35 miles north of Halifax.
  • The RCMP caught up to the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman of both Halifax and Portapique, at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia.
  • The suspect was apprehended after an exchange of fire at 10:40 ADT.
  • He died shortly after being taken into police custody.
  • On Sunday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil called the shooting “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” and lamented it causing an additional “heavy burden” on a community already concerned about the coronavirus.
  • A number of other leaders have also expressed condolences, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said, “My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation.”

What we don’t know

  • The shooter’s motive
  • The firearm used by the shooter, and whether it was registered
  • How many people were killed
  • How many people were wounded
  • The identities of all of the victims