N.S. mass killer showed off his 'military' style gun, claiming it was for movie
Published Monday, March 8, 2021 6:23PM AST Last Updated Monday, March 8, 2021 10:39PM AST
A fire-destroyed property registered to Gabriel Wortman at 200 Portapique Beach Rd. is seen in Portapique, N.S., Friday, May 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
HALIFAX -- In the months before he killed 22 people in the Nova Scotia mass shooting, the gunman -- who didn't have a firearms licence -- showed a powerful rifle to others and made up a fanciful story about its purpose, witnesses say.
Newly released court documents quote a former "work-related friend" of Gabriel Wortman telling police that near the end of December 2019 or early 2020, the killer opened the trunk of his car and "showed him a big military gun."
The work associate, who said he'd known the killer for two decades, told police the gunman "brought the gun back from Maine and said that it had no firing pin and that it was for a movie he was going to be making."
The gunman would go on to use illegally obtained guns with over-capacity magazines, including two semi-automatic rifles and two pistols, to commit his murders during a 13-hour rampage on April 18-19, 2020.
Past summaries of interviews that police carried out to secure search warrants have said guns were obtained by the killer in the United States and that the 51-year-old denturist -- who was shot dead by police on April 19 -- smuggled the weapons across the border.
Lisa Banfield, the gunman's common-law spouse, is also quoted as telling police that he "would show guns to people."
According to an April 28, 2020, statement, Banfield told police that Wortman "showed her sister's boyfriend a gun at the warehouse and he also showed her brother Jimmy the handgun."
Banfield's statement includes her account of how on the night of April 18 she and Wortman argued, and he went on to assault her before she managed to escape into the woods.
She has told police that the killer also fired one of his guns around her.
Banfield told police the killer confined her in a replica police vehicle with a divider between the front and back seats. "She was able to slide the window (of the divider) open and crawl through and escape before Gabriel Wortman returned," says the summary of her statement.
"Wortman had a friend ... who had a firearms licence and Lisa believed that Gabriel would tell (name redacted) what kind of gun he wanted and (he) would get the gun," she's quoted as telling police in the edited statement about the killer's trips to Maine to acquire firearms.
"Lisa Banfield said that Gabriel Wortman had told her how he would wrap firearms and place them in the tonneau cover in order to transport them back to Canada from the United States." A tonneau cover goes over the unoccupied rear compartment of a vehicle.
A spokeswoman for the RCMP declined comment on whether police ever received a report from anyone about Wortman having illegal guns.
The court documents also indicate that the gunman wasn't shy about showing others his replica RCMP police vehicle and lying about why he had it.
A friend of one of the gunman's victims, Aaron Tuck, is quoted as telling police in a May 6, 2020 statement that he and Tuck saw an unmarked police car, with a decal package laid out on a table nearby, at a residence belonging to Wortman.
The friend told police, "Wortman said that he was fixing up the car to use in parades."
The work associate was also told by the gunman about his plans for a replica car.
"He was getting his car all done up like a RCMP car and...(the witness) thought the car was for the movie too," he said in the April 27, 2020 statement.
During his rampage, the killer drove a replica RCMP police vehicle as he carried out his killings and eluded police.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021.