The gunman who went on a murderous shooting rampage in Nova Scotia last month while masquerading as a Mountie was related to two retired members of the RCMP.
Investigators probing the worst mass killing in Canada’s history have identified and spoken to each of the former members of the federal police force.
“The retired RCMP officers related to the gunman have been interviewed as part of the investigation. The origin of all police related items is still under investigation,” RCMP Const. Hans Ouellette told National Post.
Two people who knew Gabriel Wortman, 51 — who killed 22 people over two days and a night on April 18-19 — told investigators soon after the gunman was killed by police that he was related to someone linked to the force. The two witness accounts were included in a police document ordered released Tuesday by a Nova Scotia judge.
Crown prosecutors, however, censored out of the document details on the nature of the RCMP link to Wortman, whether it was accurate information and whether it was the same relative in the force or two different people.
Wortman’s common-law spouse told police he was related to someone in the RCMP and he “had one of his uniforms but it didn’t fit,” the document said. Another also said he was related to someone in the RCMP.
A colleague who worked with Wortman at one of his denture clinics also told investigators of Wortman’s uniform, saying he “would dress up as a police officer and would role play,” according to a document written by the RCMP to convince a judge to issue search warrants of Wortman’s properties.
Wortman dressed in an authentic RCMP uniform and drove in a replica of an RCMP cruiser when he embarked on a terrifying murder spree, targeting people he knew as well as random people he encountered.
Among the dead are RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, who Wortman shot during the police manhunt for him. Stevenson’s cruiser collided with his fake cruiser, he then started shooting at her, a witness said.
Wortman then stole her gun and ammunition to add to his arsenal and torched both disabled cruisers. He shot and killed a passerby who stopped his SUV to help at the scene of the crash and stole his vehicle.
When Wortman stopped for gas in Enfield, N.S., where a police officer was also stopped, the officer shot and killed Wortman, police said.
The role of Wortman’s access to equipment and uniforms, along with his weapons, have been two important questions in the fallout over the attacks. The lack of information fuels conspiracy theories and concerns the RCMP is hiding information.
I can’t imagine a more horrific set of circumstances
“I’ve been a police officer for 30 years now and I can’t imagine a more horrific set of circumstances than looking for someone who looks like you,” RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell said of the enfolding drama of the rampage, shortly after the murders.
“That was obviously an advantage the suspect had on police, public, everyone he encountered.”
Other questions remained unanswered by the force.
“We respect the Court’s decision to release the redacted documents. Because the unsealing of the ITOs is a matter before the courts and in consideration of our ongoing investigation, the RCMP is not currently in a position to provide additional details,” Ouellette told the Post.