A fire-destroyed property registered to Gabriel Wortman at 200 Portapique Beach Road is seen in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, May 8, 2020. Newly released documents suggest the gunman behind the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia had planned to “get” a pair of people in Halifax during his murderous rampage, but the Mounties were warned by his common-law spouse while he was on the loose north of the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A fire-destroyed property registered to Gabriel Wortman at 200 Portapique Beach Road is seen in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, May 8, 2020. Newly released documents suggest the gunman behind the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia had planned to “get” a pair of people in Halifax during his murderous rampage, but the Mounties were warned by his common-law spouse while he was on the loose north of the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Gunman behind mass shooting in Nova Scotia had targets in Halifax: search warrants

The witness said he ducked when he noticed a laser sight on the handgun

Newly released documents suggest the gunman behind the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia had planned to “get” a pair of people in Halifax during his rampage, but the Mounties were warned by his common-law spouse while he was on the loose north of the city.

The partially redacted RCMP search warrant applications, released Wednesday, say Halifax Regional Police officers were dispatched to an unidentified residence where they provided protection to two people.

No other details are provided, but the suggestion that the killer was headed to Halifax falls in line with the route he was taking after he killed 22 people in northern and central Nova Scotia.

On the night of April 18, the killer set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique, N.S., before evading police later that night while dressed as a Mountie and driving a vehicle that he modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station on a highway just north of Halifax. The killer drove more than 100 kilometres during the 13 hours he was at large.

The documents also provide new details about how a wounded witness told the first officers on the scene in Portapique that he believed the shooter was his neighbour, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman.

The witness, whose name is blacked out, told two officers that he and his wife were in their car when they approached what they thought was an “RCMP car … with an officer in it,” parked in front of a burning home.

“The police vehicle pulled around the driveway and pulled up beside them, so (the witness) rolled down the window to talk to him but before he could say anything (the man who looked like a Mountie) pulled a gun out and started shooting at them,” the document says.

The witness said he ducked when he noticed a laser sight on the handgun, which was pointed at his head.

“He heard two or three bangs and wasn’t even sure if he was shot at the time,” the document says, and the witness noted that one bullet hit him in the shoulder and another grazed the side of his head.

“His wife screamed at him to drive and they pulled away.”

Minutes later, after meeting RCMP officers arriving at the scene, the witness informed officers his first suspicion was that the gunman was Wortman because his barn was on fire and Wortman had a white Ford Taurus that he’d previously referred to as a police car.

“(The witness) said the car (the suspect) was driving is almost identical to the police cars that showed up on the scene.”

The witness also said he noticed that Wortman’s house was on fire, and that “all of sudden there’s this police car that’s not a police car lighting this other house on fire, so it had to be Gabe.”

The man’s observations are significant because they show that the RCMP were made aware of the killer’s disguise and his highly detailed replica vehicle early in their response to the shooting. However, the Mounties did not issue an alert about the vehicle on Twitter until 10:17 a.m. the next day.

Meanwhile, the RCMP also released more details about the weapons used by the killer, confirming he was carrying illegal, over-capacity magazines for the two semi-automatic rifles he had with him.

The Mounties say one of the weapons, a 5.56-calibre Colt Law Enforcement carbine, had been smuggled into Canada from California. The second weapon, a .223-calibre Ruger Mini 14 rifle, had been purchased from a gun shop in Winnipeg, but the documents don’t say who bought the weapon.

Wortman did not have a licence to possess or acquire firearms.

Blake Brown, a Saint Mary’s University history professor and author of “Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada,” said the Ruger and Colt weapons can discharge several rounds of ammunition quickly and accurately.

Brown described the Colt carbine as a variant of the AR-15.

“The AR-15 has been employed by several mass murderers in the United States, and by the Christchurch, New Zealand mass shooter in 2019,” Brown told The Canadian Press.

Since the 1990s, Ottawa has sought to limit the damage that can be caused by such firearms by placing restrictions on the size of their magazines, which are typically limited to holding no more than five rounds, he said.

When the gunman was killed, he had with him three over-capacity magazines for the Colt carbine, which could each hold 30 rounds. As well, there were three magazines with the Ruger rifle, including the original five-round magazine and two over-capacity magazines designed to hold 40 rounds each.

“The Nova Scotia mass shooting shows that larger magazines can be smuggled into Canada, and then used with semi-automatic, assault-style rifles,” Brown said. “This may partly be why the government … has banned many models of assault-style rifles, including the AR-15 and Mini-14.”

Inside the car the gunman had been driving, police also found a .40-calibre semi-automatic Glock 23 pistol with an over-capacity magazine in the gun, and a 9-millimetre semi-automatic Ruger P89 pistol. Both were equipped with laser sights and were smuggled into Canada from Maine, police say.

The gunman also had the 9-mm Smith and Wesson service pistol issued to RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was killed by the shooter as she drove up to his mock cruiser earlier in the day in nearby Shubenacadie, N.S.

Michael MacDonald and Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CrimeRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.
FOREST INK: A year to remember for lumber prices

As of March 12, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) two-by-four cost $1,040 per thousand board feet

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Drier weather good for calving season

My partner and I team up to look for any newborns and note them for later in the day

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 president David Brideau salutes the Cenotaph at city hall during a past Remembrance Day services in Williams Lake Monday, Nov. 11. Brideau, who served three years with the Canadian military in Edmonton, was the parade commander during the Legion’s Remembrance Day service. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake legion looks to upgrade lounge, patio, to be COVID compliant

Upgrades will require significant financial investment, Branch 139 president David Brideau said

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read