'She's going to get the help that she needs,' friend says of woman who hid from N.S. killer
HALIFAX -- A close friend of the Nova Scotia shooter's domestic partner said it's clear to her that she was a long-time survivor of domestic abuse.
"Sometimes, the people who need help the most are the ones who would never ask for it," said Sarah Leblanc.
But Leblanc is providing it anyway, setting up a GoFundMe page for her friend.
"She's lost everything," Leblanc said. "She's lost her whole life, and as reluctant as she was to accept this offer when I put it out, I know her enough to know that, if she didn't need it, she would have said 'no.'"
Leblanc's friend spent a long night hiding in the woods near her Portapique, N.S., home while her common-law spouse Gabriel Wortman shot and killed many of his victims in a two-day rampage that started on April 18 and spanned several Nova Scotia communities, claiming the lives of 22 people.
Leblanc said her friend is coping as well as can be expected.
"I've actually had the pleasure of knowing the lady who survived this horrible ordeal for quite a few years, and she is just an absolute ray of sunshine," Leblanc said.
The RCMP have said the shooter's longtime girlfriend was the first victim and was assaulted on the night of April 18. After a terrifying night hiding from Wortman in the woods, she emerged early the next morning and provided vital information to police. That included a photograph of the replica police cruiser he was driving.
Leblanc has spoken to her friend since then, who's believed to be with family, but they haven't talked about what happened that night.
"I haven't asked any details," Leblanc said. "I don't want to know any details. I just want to make sure that, going forward, she's going to heal and she's going to get the help that she needs."
Despite Leblanc's best intentions, there was some backlash when she posted the GoFundMe page for her friend.
"I know that when you're hurt and when you lose someone, or, when something like this happens, the first thing you do is look for someone to blame, and he's not here anymore, so maybe for some people it's easy to have anger towards her," Leblanc said.
But that blame is misplaced, she said, and the focus now should be on remembering the victims -- and those who survived.
"I just wanted people to remember her, too, because she's just as much of a victim in this as anyone else, and she has lived through something that probably will take more than one lifetime to heal," Leblanc said.
Leblanc said she's donated to a number of the other GoFundMe pages set up to support the victims' families.
She insists her page is not meant to show any disrespect to anyone who lost their life during the rampage and she's hopeful everyone find some peace after a senseless tragedy.