N.S. mass shooter wrote about being 'well-armed' for the pandemic
HALIFAX -- A heavily redacted 131-page warrant document made public by the courts Monday provides a small glimpse into the man responsible for the horrific mass killings in Nova Scotia’s Colchester County this past April, suggesting he was paranoid about the pandemic, and described himself “well-armed” for it.
The lengthy document also describes to what extent Gabriel Wortman used the internet to purchase many of the items used to create his mock RCMP car.
Twenty-two people died in the shooting rampage that occurred over more than 13 hours on April 18 and 19. One of the people shot was also pregnant at the time of her death.
A general warrant used by RCMP investigators to seek access to Wortman’s Amazon account outlines many of the online purchases he made in the year before the tragedy.
The document is heavily redacted because of the ongoing RCMP investigation into the shooter’s crimes dubbed "Operation H-Strong."
The warrant application includes a statement made to an RCMP officer by an unnamed acquaintance of Wortman.
In the statement, the witness, who says he’s originally from New Brunswick, tells RCMP Sgt. Fraser Firth that “Gabriel must have thought about this a long time with the police car and high-powered rifles.”
When it comes to the 51 year old’s firearms, previous court documents have revealed one witness told the RCMP he had “acquired guns from a friend who passed away.”
The RCMP say Wortman was in possession of two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles when he left the Portapique, N.S., area on April 18.
One gun has been traced to Canada. Investigators believe the other three weapons were obtained in the United States.
The warrant released today states that a search of Canada’s firearms databases found that the shooter’s guns were not registered.
The document also indicates an earlier warrant granting RCMP access to the shooter’s PayPal account, found a raft of purchases of police car related items dating back to March of 2019.
Those purchases include:
- A Ford Police Interceptor Taurus 2013 Plus Model HAVIS Police Center Console
- An Interceptor Taurus Sedan Police Push Bumper Bar
- Rear Window Armor Bars
- An LED Lightbar
- And a 2013-2019 Ford Explorer Taurus Police 18” Wheel Cover Hub.
It appears from the list that he also purchased various stickers and decals used to make his decommissioned RCMP vehicle look like the real thing.
According to details previously released in court documents, the shooter purchased several old police cars by credit card from GCSurplus Ottawa, operated by Public Services and Procurement Canada.
The General Warrant application made public today states that one of those vehicles, purchased on July 3, 2019 by the shooter, a 2017 Ford Taurus, was the vehicle he used on April 18 and 19.
According to the RCMP, before any vehicles are sent to to GCSurplus for disposal, the RCMP ensures that policing equipment such as radios, sirens and lights are removed.
An RCMP spokesperson says equipment removed from the vehicles is either reused by the RCMP or rendered inoperable before being sold as scrap. Decals are also removed.
Canada's financial intelligence agency, FINTRAC, flagged some of Wortman's PayPal transactions, including his purchases of vehicle accessories through eBay. It prepared a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) with respect to those purchases, and others, details of which have been largely redacted. It also included credit card transactions associated with Wortman, to buy items from GCSurplus, totaling more than $15,000.
Investigators also obtained access to one of Wortman’s email accounts, and details from various correspondence are revealed in the warrant application.
One email exchange comes in June of 2019, from a business only referred to as “American Vinyl”, which turned down the shooter’s inquiry as to whether the company would do a “complete decal set for an RCMP Ford Taurus sedan…”
The company’s reply: “Hi Gabe! The RCMP sedan stickers are going to be a pass for us, since we’re trying to get away from custom orders…”
Previous documents and RCMP statements have stated Wortman visited a so-far unnamed business on July 3 2019, to purchase "sheets of reflective and sapphire blue vinyl."
Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show the man who made the decals for the gunman was a convicted drug trafficker and was sent back to prison when his role in the April mass shooting was uncovered.
Those documents state that Peter Alan Griffon was interviewed by police as part of their investigation into the shootings and he at first lied about producing the decals.
After executing a search warrant, police found a copy of the completed work on Griffon's phone.
A month before the Nova Scotia mass shooting, the killer also sent an email to an acquaintance talking about COVID-19 and being “well-armed” for the pandemic.
The name and email address of the recipient is redacted.
The document says the message “talked about how the virus was huge and people have not dealt with something as big as it was.”
It goes on to state the killer — “said that he wasn’t optimistic and once the money runs out people will become desperate and people will need guns and ‘Thank God we are well-armed.’”
Past documents detail how the shooter started cashing out his assets and investments beginning on March 20. He then went to a CIBC branch, spoke to the branch director, and requested to withdraw $475,000 in $100 bills. Arrangements were then made to pick up the cash in two parcels from a Brinks location.
The warrant application states it is believed that the shooter did not have a cell phone, and that whatever device was being used to communicate by email was burned in the fires he set on his properties in Portapique the night of April 18.
The document released Monday were made public by order of Judge Laurel Halfpenny-MacQuarrie as part on an ongoing application by multiple news outlets, including CTV Atlantic. The media organizations are asking the Nova Scotia Provincial Court to release more information from warrants and other documents used in the investigation into April’s mass shooting.