Nineteen dead as gunman goes on shooting rampage in Canada

Canada shooting10
A view of the command post for Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) after the search for Gabriel Wortman, who they describe as a shooter of multiple victims, in Great Village, Nova Scotia, Canada.

A gunman in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia killed at least 19 people, including one police officer, during a 12-hour rampage, authorities said on Sunday.

Police told reporters that 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman shot people in several locations across the province and they were still trying to establish a final death toll.

They added that Wortman was dead, but would not confirm a CTV report that he had been shot and killed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said gunfire was exchanged between police and the suspect at at least one point.

On Sunday morning, police had warned that the gunman was driving a vehicle that looked like an RCMP vehicle at one point, and was wearing an RCMP uniform.

“The fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” Leather said.

Due to privacy reasons, Leather said he was not able to discuss Wortman’s relationship with the victims, besides saying some of the victims did not appear to have a relationship with the gunman.

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Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP, has been identified as the police member who was killed responding to the active shooter incident.

“Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served. Earlier this afternoon I met with Heidi’s family and there are no words to describe their pain,” Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman told reporters on Sunday evening.

“Two children have lost their mother. And a husband has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.”

Bergerman also said a second male officer was injured and is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Premier Stephen McNeil addressed the investigation on Sunday afternoon.

“I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia. This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” McNeil said.

“To the families of the victims, and to those who are still feeling afraid, my heart goes out to you. Know that all Nova Scotians are with you.”

McNeil also thanked RCMP for stopping the gunman and doing their best to protect citizens.

In a media briefing on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also thanked police for their work.

“My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation,” Trudeau said in a brief statement.

The killings started late on Saturday in the small Atlantic coastal town of Portapique, about 130 km north (80 miles) of the provincial capital, Halifax.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has tighter gun control laws than the United States.

The massacre is the most recent act of mass murder in Canada since a gunman killed 15 women in Montreal in December 1989.

The killings do not represent the largest act of murder in the country’s history, given that 268 Canadians were among the 329 people who died in 1985 when a bomb brought down an Air India jet over the Atlantic.

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