Owner of Debert welding shop where N.S. killer hid from police details what he left behind
DEBERT, N.S. -- The man responsible for Nova Scotia's mass shooting 11 days ago hid behind a welding shop overnight.
The family that owns the shop says it was simple blind luck none of them ran into him.
Police say the shooter fled to Debert after his rampage started in Portapique, N.S. Gabriel Wortman parked his replica RCMP cruiser behind a local welding shop and dumped some items there before taking off again.
Brian MacDonald, who owns the welding shop in Debert, N.S. -- and had previously done work for the shooter – discovered some discarded items during his morning walk in the large open space behind the shop.
"A pair of boots -- leather, high-top boots, parade boots, I guess they call them," said MacDonald. "A gun holster (and an) empty box of shells."
Investigators have already done a painstaking grid search of the area -- all of it vital information as they try to piece together what happened during the rampage.
Surveillance video had already established Wortman was in Debert, and MacDonald says he may have been interested in hiding the car.
"There used to be a bunker -- typically the same as what I have," MacDonald said. "It only had a roof on it. And you could go right down there and drive in."
It was torn down a year ago -- a fact the shooter might not have known.
A nearby trail ultimately leads to the road where VON nurses Heather O'Brien and Kristen Beaton were shot to death -- just a short distance apart.
Seventy-eight-year-old Stan Rafuse knew both women, who had visited his home to care for his ailing wife, who died last year.
He got the news of the manhunt in a phone call.
"It was an emergency call, advising people to stay in their houses and so on," Rafuse said. "That was around 10 in the morning. After that, all hell broke loose."
Roadside memorials dedicated to the nurses continue to grow at the site and elsewhere in Colchester County, where a total of 22 people were killed in a number of communities.
There is shock, sadness and disbelief, too at the welding shop, where, any other morning, someone probably would have gone in early.
"I'm just really, really thankful that nobody was here at the time from my family," said Brian's daughter, Leah MacDonald-White. "So, that's a bit selfish, but I'm very thankful for that."
Little by little, the timeline from that terrible weekend is filling in, with a much clearer picture of what the shooter was doing for all those hours. What isn't known is why he did it -- a question being asked all over the province.