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Remains of N.S. mass shooter's property bulldozed as Portapique aims to heal
PORTAPIQUE, N.S. -- The charred remains of the Portapique, N.S., residence owned by the man responsible for Nova Scotia’s mass shooting has been bulldozed, and a burned-out car that was also on the property has been removed.
The residence on Portapique Beach Road was one of several Gabriel Wortman set on fire during a murderous rampage last month that killed 22 people.
The District 10 councillor for the Municipality of Colchester, who represents the Portapique area, says the measure is one of several being taken to try to help people in the area heal and move forward.
Tom Taggart says he’s been working with the victims’ families to have the other burned properties in Portapique filled in as well, turning them into empty lots.
“Getting these properties cleaned up will help some [and] take those reminders away,” says Taggart.
Taggart says the community is also making plans to move the dozens of items and signs left as part of a makeshift memorial on Portapique Beach Road.
He says they will move what they can down the road to the old Portapique church, where area resident Cees van den Hoek built a more permanent memorial with the idea of giving mourners a place to go.
“We’re trying to get their life in some sense of normalcy,” says Taggart, “I don’t want to say they’re going to return to normal, because I’m not sure that will ever happen.”
He says the community has had counsellors from the Department of Justice offering help to residents who are struggling.
“They’re anxious to get on with their lives as much as they can,” he says.
Details about mass killer continue to emerge
As residents try to move forward, details about the man responsible for the pain in the community continue to emerge.
An unsealed RCMP search warrant reveals acquaintances of the shooter described him to police as “abusive” and “paranoid.” Witness statements also describe his collection of guns, used police cars, police uniforms, and equipment.
The warrant also states Wortman had been stopped and ticketed for speeding on Portapique Beach Road on February 12, while driving a white 2013 Ford Taurus -- one of his decommissioned police cars.
While some have wondered whether the shooter’s collection of guns and cars had been reported to police, policing expert Christian Leuprecht says even if they had, authorities would not necessarily have had enough grounds to investigate him.
Leuprecht is a professor at the Royal Military College and the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.
He says owning old police vehicles is not illegal as long as they aren’t adorned with police decals or are otherwise inappropriately marked with government insignia.
Leuprecht says authorities would have needed more evidence regarding the shooter’s ownership and use of guns in order to have any basis for an investigation.
“Simply a neighbour saying, ‘I think somebody’s stashing firearms illegally’ would not likely be sufficient grounds for search and seizure,” he says.
The warrant documents also include a description of the 51-year-old killer as a “psychopath.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Scott Theriault, who heads up the Department of Psychiatry at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, says placing the shooter in that official category will require more information.
Investigators are still in the process of conducting a psychological autopsy on the killer.
However, Theriault says some of the characteristics being used to describe him fit the established profile used in psychiatric literature about other mass killers.
“They’re often paranoid in the sense that they are suspicious of other people, they’re mistrustful,” says Theriault. “They often have a deep sense of anger because they feel that somehow their success in life has been thwarted, and they blame others for that.”
“That seems to be coming across in the information we’ve received so far,” he adds.