Witnesses say N.S. shooter had hidden rooms; stockpiles of drugs and guns
RCMP officers prepare to take Gabriel Wortman into custody at a gas station in Enfield, N.S. on Sunday April 19, 2020. Wortman, who was shot by a Mountie, later died of his wounds. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
HALIFAX -- Several witnesses told RCMP investigators the gunman responsible for Canada's worst mass shooting had hidden rooms in several of his properties and one said he had "smuggled guns and drugs from Maine for years, and had a stockpile of guns."
The details have been made public by a court order, part of an ongoing application by several media organizations, including CTV News, for the release of search warrant materials relating to the mass investigation into the massacre.
Twenty-two people were killed by the shooter, who began a shooting rampage in the small community of Portapique, N.S. and continued over a period of 13 hours as the gunman continued his violent path through several communities.
Gabriel Wortman was then shot and killed by police on Sunday, April 19th at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 100 kilometres from where the terror began.
According to documents, an RCMP member was “also at the gas pump” that day and recognized the shooter. Wortman died at the scene.
Statements given to RCMP investigators by several unidentified witnesses describe “secret hides” at his denturist office in Dartmouth and the 51-year-old’s properties in Portapique, N.S.
The statements were released by the court as part of applications for various search warrant materials relating to the investigation.
One witness told two RCMP members on April 19th, that, about eight years ago, the shooter had shown someone “a hidden compartment in the garage where he kept a high-powered rifle.” According to that witness, “the compartment was underneath the workbench.”
The witness also told police of a “false wall” at the shooter’s Dartmouth residence, and a “secret room in the clinic in Dartmouth.”
Another statement, taken by a member of the Halifax Regional Police, from a witness who met the shooter in 2011, gave a chilling description of the denturist as a man who “builds fires and burns bodies, is a sexual predator and supplies drugs...”
That same witness, describes “secret hides located in the building,” although it’s not clear which building that refers to. The witness statement continues, “There are two false walls in the back bathroom and two in the garage.”
That witness also says the shooter’s log house on Portapique Beach Road “has a two bay garage….there is a 30X30 deck and underneath is a storage room.”
The witness also told the HRP officer that the shooter had “smuggled drugs from Maine and had a bag of 10,000 oxycontin and 15,000 dilaudid” obtained in New Brunswick.
According to that statement, an unidentified person knew the shooter “had smuggled guns and drugs from Maine for years and had a stockpile of guns.”
A final summary of information gathered by investigators, written by the RCMP officer tasked with obtaining warrants for the ongoing investigation, describes how people talked about there being “secret hiding spots” at his warehouse on Orchard Beach Drive.
It also confirms that investigators did find “areas behind a false wall” during a search of the shooter’s property on Portland Street in Dartmouth on April 20th.
Heavily redacted versions of these same witness statements were first released by the courts in May. Those versions revealed the shooter was known to have what looked like a police uniform and a replica RCMP car.
The material made public by court order also reveals that one witness told police the shooter had an uncle who is a retired RCMP member, and that “this uncle” gave the gunman parts of his uniform. RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell said on June 4th that the police investigation did uncover “a familial association…estranged from the gunman,” but Campbell said the investigation revealed “operational items” were not supplied to the shooter.
Previously unsealed material from the court documents revealed the shooter had multiple weapons, including a high-powered rifle, and was described by people who knew him as "paranoid" and a “psychopath.”