Nova Scotia Shooting Incident – Timeline
Date: April 27, 2020
A sequence of shooting incidents in Nova Scotia resulted in multiple injuries and deaths, including the killing of a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and an investigation is ongoing.
- Regarding the tragic events that took place in rural Nova Scotia on April 18th and 19th, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is working tirelessly through the complexity of evidence and crime scenes to get answers.
- On April 24th, the national police service presented preliminary findings for the chronology of events, which at their conclusion, had culminated in several people being injured, and the tragic loss of twenty-two (22) innocent lives, including the death in the line of duty of RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson.
- Under the circumstances and complexity of this investigation, we ask for the public’s patience as our professionals work to determine what exactly took place and why.
- I would like to thank all first responders for their service in relation to these challenging events, as well as all those assisting with the investigation and recovery.
- Our thoughts remain with the victims and all those impacted by this senseless tragedy.
- Public and officer safety remain top priorities for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
On April 18-19, 2020, a sequence of shooting incidents occurred at multiple locations in Nova Scotia, resulting in deaths of 22 innocent people at the hands of a gunman. Three (3) people were also injured. Some of those who lost their lives did so while trying to save others. They are heroes. This tragedy also resulted in the death in the line of duty of RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, who was responding to the shooting. Another RCMP officer, Constable Chad Morrison, received non-life-threatening injuries. The suspected perpetrator, Gabriel Wortman, is deceased. While one vehicle driven by Wortman resembled an RCMP vehicle and it is believed he wore a police uniform at some point during the incident, he was not an RCMP employee. H Division Major Crime is coordinating the investigations with full support from many other RCMP units from across the Maritime Provinces and Canada.
The RCMP implements a Critical Incident Command structure when responding to complaints that may impact public safety. Highly skilled and trained officers come together as a team in order to direct emergency personnel and the multiple specialized policing units deployed when responding to a complaint. These two elements are important to be aware of as they relate directly to the timeline and the RCMP’s response to the incidents.
The following details have been gathered through the benefit of hindsight, an advantage that the police officers responding to the initial 9-1-1 call of a shooting and the subsequent calls did not have the benefit of. To assist in outlining the timeline, the events have been separated into three clusters of incidents. The first cluster was in Portapique on the night of Saturday, April 18, 2020. On Sunday, April 19, 2020, there was a second cluster of incidents in Wentworth, Glenholme, and Debert. A third and final cluster took place in Shubenacadie, Milford and Enfield, that same day.
Cluster One – Portapique, NS
On April 18, 2020, before the first call came in, there was an assault between the gunman and a person known to him in Portapique, NS. The victim managed to escape from the gunman and hid overnight in the woods.
Following this, on [Redacted], the H Division RCMP received the first call to 9-1-1 related to a shooting at a home in Portapique. Officers arrived at 10:26 p.m. and located a male leaving the area with an apparent gunshot wound. They learned that this man was shot while driving his vehicle. The victim indicated a vehicle drove by him while he was driving, and the shot came from the passing vehicle. [Redacted]. There were also several structures already on fire. In total there were over seven (7) locations where people were found deceased. Many of the deceased were discovered while responding members were checking homes for victims and/or suspects. [Redacted]
While the situation was unfolding, the Critical Incident Program was engaged and staging to take control of the critical incident, and perimeters were established. Specialized Units responded including Police Dog Services, Emergency Response Teams and a Department of Natural Resources helicopter. The Explosives Disposal Unit, Crisis Negotiators and the Emergency Medical Response Team were on stand-by. Within a very short time, specialized units and resources from J Division RCMP in New Brunswick were also engaged. Over a lengthy period of time, first responders engaged in clearing residences, searching for suspects, and providing life saving measures. H Division Operational Communications Centre (OCC) Telecommunicators remained on the line with witnesses in the immediate area.
Fairly early into the RCMP’s involvement, the RCMP learned of a possible suspect and that the individual lived in a home in Portapique. The possible suspect’s home and garages were fully engulfed in flames. [Redacted] as well as a third vehicle were also burning on the property. The RCMP also learned that the gunman was in possession of a pistol and long barreled weapons. He was also known to own several vehicles that looked like police vehicles. Efforts to locate the suspect continued throughout the night.
After 6:00am on April 19, 2020, a victim emerged from hiding after she called 9-1-1. RCMP officers responded and it was at that time that, through a significant key witness, investigators confirmed more details about Gabriel Wortman. This included the fact that he was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing a police uniform. He was in possession of several firearms that included pistols and long guns.
At that time, a Be on the Look Out (BOLO) was issued—a bulletin that included a description of the suspect and vehicle was sent to all police officers in Nova Scotia. Containment of the scenes were maintained and investigators continued to search for the suspect.
Cluster 2 - Wentworth, Glenholme, and Debert, NS
[Redacted] initial arrival in Portapique, the RCMP began receiving a second series of 9-1-1 calls in an area more than 60 km away. [Redacted]
The investigation uncovered that the gunman then travelled to a residence on Highway 4 in Glenholme, where [Redacted]. As he was known to the occupants, they identified him to 9-1-1 call takers and said he was driving a police vehicle and carrying a long gun. The occupants did not answer the door and the gunman left. [Redacted]. He then continued driving down the same road, encountered a second vehicle and shot and killed the female driver of that vehicle. The distance spanning the second series of events, from the timing of the first call on Hunter Road to the last incident, was approximately 44 km.
Cluster 3 - Shubenacadie, Milford and Enfield, NS
Cst. Chad Morrison and Cst. Heidi Stevenson were both responding to the incident. They were in communication and arranged to meet. Cst. Morrison was waiting for Cst. Stevenson at Highway 2 and Highway 224. What appeared to be a marked RCMP vehicle approached Cst. Morrison. As he and Cst. Stevenson had prearranged to meet at that location, Cst. Morrison thought the vehicle was being driven by Cst. Stevenson.
The approaching “police vehicle” was driven by the gunman who pulled up beside Cst. Morrison and immediately opened fire. Cst. Morrison received several gunshot wounds and began to retreat from the area, driving his vehicle away from the scene. He notified other officers and dispatch that he had been shot and that he was en route to EHS station for emergency medical attention.
During that time, Cst. Stevenson was nearby in the area, believed to be driving northbound on Highway 2, while the gunman was travelling southbound on Highway 2. At that point, both vehicles collided head-on. Cst. Stevenson engaged the gunman and during the encounter, the gunman took her life. He also took her service pistol and pistol magazines. A passerby stopped and was fatally shot by the gunman. The gunman then set both Cst. Stevenson’s vehicle and the replica police vehicle that he was driving, on fire. He left the scene driving south on Highway 224 in the passerby’s vehicle, a silver SUV. The gunman travelled south on Highway 224 for a short distance, where he entered a home on the eastside of Highway 224. The residence happened to be the home of a woman known to the gunman. The gunman shot and killed the female resident, removed the police clothing he was wearing and transferred his weapons to the female victim’s vehicle, a [Redacted] Mazda 3.
The gunman travelled south on Highway 224 in the female victim’s vehicle, coming to the Big Stop Irving in Enfield. While he was at the gas pumps, one (1) of the RCMP’s tactical resources came into the gas station to refuel their vehicle. When the officer exited the vehicle, there was an encounter and the gunman was shot and killed by police at [Redacted]. The distance the gunman travelled from the first shooting of Cst. Morrison to the encounter with police at the Big Stop is approximately 23 km.
The situations within the clusters of critical incidents were rapidly evolving, which has increased the complexity of the investigation. Due to the circumstances, and given multiple crime scenes, no timeline for the completion of the investigation can be given at this time. “H” Division Major Crime is coordinating the investigations.
Prepared by: Dustine Rodier, OIC H Division Operational Support and OCC, H Division, RCMP; 902-402-8635; Konrad Roberts, C&IP Strategic Policy, RCMP; 343-542 2628
Approved by: Brian Brennan, Deputy Commissioner, Contract and Indigenous Policing, RCMP; 613-843-4632
- Date modified: