Crime & Justice

Authorities raise death toll to 19 in Canadian shooting spree

By Julio Cesar Rivas

Toronto, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday asked the media not to publish either the name or the photograph of the alleged shooter in the country’s bloodiest multiple murder, a series of killings that left at least 19 dead – including the lone gunman – on the weekend in small rural communities in Nova Scotia.

“No one man’s action can build a wall between us and a better day, no matter how evil, how thoughtless or how destructive,” Trudeau said at a Monday morning press conference. “As families grieve the loss of a loved one, all Canadians are standing with them.”

Instead of focusing on the shooter, Trudeau suggested at his daily coronavirus press conference that “all our … attention” should be paid to the victims, their families and friends.

Local media reported that during his wideranging rampage Wortman was driving a vehicle outfitted to look like those used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and even wore a uniform similar to that worn by members of that force.

Trudeau also raised to 18 the number of people killed by Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year-old dental technician who also died when police confronted him on Sunday morning.

The premier paid special attention in his remarks to RCMP officer Heidi Stevenson, one of the people killed by Wortman. Trudeau said that Stevenson – a 23-year veteran of the force – died “protecting others,” responding to the “call of duty.”

RCMP chief superintendent Chris Leather said Monday that officers were examining 16 separate crime scenes, adding: “I know this is a challenging time for Nova Scotians and that there are so many unanswered questions. I want to reassure you that we are working hard to find out as much information as possible in the days and weeks to come. … We will be in this for months to come.”

Leather also said that authorities are afraid they will find more bodies in the ruins of five buildings that Wortman set on fire, adding that some of the victims apparently knew Wortman although the motive for his murder spree is not yet known.

Authorities said that Wortman began his bloody rampage on Saturday night at a home in the tiny town of Portapique on Canada’s Atlantic coast some 1,250 kilometers (775 miles) northeast of Toronto.

When the first Mounted Police officers arrived on the scene in Portapique, they found a “chaotic scene” with “numerous” victims but without any trace of the shooter.

Police announced that they were searching for an “active shooter” and recommended that the public stay indoors and take refuge in their basements, but they did not tell the public that Wortman had already killed several people.

Over the next 14 hours, police followed the trail of destruction and death left by Wortman in several spots in Nova Scotia until on Sunday morning they caught up with him and engaged him in a shootout at a gasoline station in the town of Enfield, about 100 km (62 mi.) south of Portapique.

Initially, police said that Wortman had killed 10 people, but over the subsequent hours investigators found more victims and warned that the final death toll could be higher.

Up to now, the worst mass killing in Canadian history had occurred in 1989 at the Ecole Polytechnique university in Montreal, when an electronics student gunned down 14 women.


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