New details emerge about N.S. mass shooting as calls for public inquiry grow louder
PORTAPIQUE, N.S. -- CTV News has learned the girlfriend of the perpetrator of Canada’s worst mass shooting ran to a resident’s home for help, emerging from the woods after escaping the gunman the night of Saturday, April 18.
Multiple sources tell CTV News the woman came to the resident’s home in Portapique, N.S., in the early-morning hours that Sunday. The resident then called 911.
That resident tells CTV News police officers surrounded the house, with their guns drawn, and the ensuing chaos put them “through hell.”
The resident didn’t want to be identified, but says the events of that night have left them so traumatized, they haven’t been able to return to their home since.
Several people who live on Portapique Beach Road and Orchard Beach Drive, where the gunman killed 13 residents, have told CTV News they believe a public inquiry is needed.
Author and journalist Paul Palango agrees. The Chester, N.S., resident has written three in-depth books examining the RCMP.
“Right from the outset, things didn’t go right,” says Palango.
He says he has been contacted by various sources in law enforcement who point to communication problems from the very start of the tragic events.
“They knew from the outset that the guy was in a police car,” Palango says. “The fake police cars were burning and the suspect’s house, so they [police] assumed he was still in there. But he’d gotten out.”
Palango says an inquiry could help determine why certain decisions were made by those in command, and why some actions were not taken.
“By the next morning, they didn’t have a secondary perimeter,” he adds. “They didn’t lock down any roads, they didn’t call Truro or Amherst municipal police.”
The gunman went on to kill nine other people during his rampage, claiming the lives of 22 people in total.
Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team confirms to CTV News that a resident of Portapique recently called to make a complaint over how police responded in the area the night of April 18. But, because the resident wasn’t injured, the complaint falls outside of SIRT’s mandate.
CTV News asked the Nova Scotia RCMP for an update on the investigation, but was told there would not be any new information released Friday or over the weekend.
Meanwhile, 33 professors and staff at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University have written an open letter to Nova Scotia’s premier, calling for a public inquiry.
“From the earliest days following these acts of violence it was clear that a public inquiry would be necessary in order to promote public confidence in the Nova Scotia legal system,” the letter states.
“The families of the victims, Nova Scotians, and Canadians deserve a transparent, impartial, and independent assessment of why and how this incident occurred,” it adds.
One of the signatories on the letter is Archie Kaiser, a law professor and expert in criminal procedural law.
“How could you not have an inquiry?” Kaiser asks. “It would just be unthinkable.”
On Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil indicated Ottawa would have to take the lead on any examination of what happened, as the RCMP is governed by federal protocols.
But Kaiser dismisses that, saying the province has the authority to trigger a public inquiry under both the provincial Public Inquiries Act and the Fatality Investigations Act. Kaiser believes a review under the Public Inquiries Act would be more appropriate in this matter.
“I don’t understand the premier’s deflection of responsibility,” he adds. “I think he should commit immediately to an inquiry in principle, and I think after that, the federal government and the province of Nova Scotia can collaborate if there are areas of discreet federal interest."
Kaiser says government does not have to wait for the RCMP and SIRT investigations to be completed before beginning the inquiry process.
In a statement Friday the Department of Justice writes, in part: “This matter is complex and involves matters of both federal and provincial jurisdiction. We want to ensure that whatever mechanism is used, there is the necessary authority to consider all of the relevant issues.”