TORONTO (AP) — A gunman disguised as a police officer went on a 12-hour rampage in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, shooting people in their homes, setting fires and killing at least 18 people, including a policewoman, in the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.
Officials said the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was also among the dead in the weekend attack. Police did not provide a motive for the killings.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the gunman killed at least 18
“The vast majority of Nova Scotians will have a direct link with one more more of victims. The entire province and country is grieving right now as we come to grips with something that is unimaginable,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau asked the media to avoid mentioning the name of the assailant or showing his picture.
“Do not give this person the gift of infamy,” he said.
Police began advising residents overnight Saturday in the rural town of Portapique, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Halifax, to lock their doors and stay in their basements.
Several bodies were later found inside and outside one home on Portapique Beach Road, the street where the suspect lived, authorities said.
Bodies were also found at several other locations within about a 50-kilometer (30-mile) area from the neighborhood where the shootings began late Saturday, and authorities believe the shooter may have targeted his first victims but then began attacking randomly. Several homes in the area were set on fire.
At least four white forensic vans were seen Monday morning entering the neighborhood where the shootings began.
Authorities said the suspected gunman wore a police uniform at one point and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser.
“That fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said. He said many of the victims did not know the shooter and authorities believe he acted alone.
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.
The dead officer was identified as Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year veteran of the force. Another officer was wounded.
Also among the dead was school teacher Lisa McCully, who worked at a local elementary school. Nova Scotia Teachers Union President President Paul Wozney said. “Our hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary,” he said.
Two health care workers at local nursing homes were also among those killed, according to Von Canada, a long term health care company, which identified them as Heather O’Brien, a licensed practical nurse, and Kristen Beaton, a continuing care assistant.