Military called in to help RCMP investigate shooting rampage in Nova Scotia
Published Wednesday, April 22, 2020 2:42PM ADT Last Updated Wednesday, April 22, 2020 4:25PM ADT
HALIFAX -- The Canadian military has been called in to help the Nova Scotia RCMP investigate one of the largest mass murders in the country's history.
The military issued a statement saying it has provided personnel, modular tents, lights, tables, chairs and generators to a number of locations in the province.
Photos from Portapique, N.S., show a large military truck and a number of other smaller vehicles parked along the entrance to Portapique Beach Road, where the shooting rampage started late Saturday.
On Tuesday, police confirmed the death toll had climbed to 23, including the suspected gunman.
His 22 victims include a teacher, two nurses, neighbours of the shooter, two correctional officers and an RCMP officer.
The RCMP said it continues to investigate whether 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who was killed by police Sunday, acted alone. There was also confirmation he was wearing an authentic police uniform.
"The investigative team is focused on learning more about this very tragic situation, including accurate victim information and whether others may have aided the suspect," the police force said in a news release Tuesday.
Earlier this week, RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather said the suspect, at one point, was driving a vehicle that was "identical" to an RCMP cruiser.
Police have said the mock cruiser and uniform helped the shooter escape detection for more than 12 hours.
The RCMP say officers were dispatched Saturday to Portapique around 10:30 p.m. to investigate a weapons complaint, but a series of subsequent 911 calls made it clear someone with a gun was shooting people in the area.
The Mounties quickly discovered several casualties inside and outside of a home in Portapique, but the assailant could not be found. Some homes in the area had been set on fire.
The search for the shooter continued through the night and into Sunday as police tracked the suspect through several small communities in northern Nova Scotia, including Wentworth, Debert and Shubenacadie.
Police say the suspect shot people he knew and killed others at random.
Wortman, a Halifax-based denturist originally from New Brunswick, was fatally shot by police at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., around noon on Sunday.
There are 16 crime scenes spread over a 90-kilometre distance. A total of five structures were set on fire, though the exact sequence of events remains unclear.
During the chase, the RCMP provided Twitter updates to alert the public about the shooter's movements. But questions have been raised as to why no emergency alerts were transmitted to cellphones and television broadcasters.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said the provincial emergency alert system was ready to be activated but no request was received from the RCMP.
A retired high-ranking Mountie says the police investigation will tax the resources of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
Pierre-Yves Bourduas, a former deputy commissioner, said the police force will need additional help to get the job done.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2020.