Gunman's shooting rampage in Nova Scotia leaves 16 dead

  • Video report by Correspondent Sejal Karia

A gunman disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires in a rampage across the Canadian province of Nova Scotia that killed 16 people, the deadliest such attack in the country’s history.

Police Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year veteran of the force was killed as she responded to the attack.

Another officer was also injured.

Several bodies were found inside and outside one home in the small, rural town of Portapique, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Halifax — what police called the first scene.

Bodies were also found at other locations.

Police Constable Heidi Stevenson was killed while responding to the attack. Credit: Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia

The attack began late Saturday, and authorities believe the shooter may have targeted his first victims but then began attacking randomly.

Police did not say what the initial motive was.

Overnight, police began advising residents of the town — already on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic — to lock their doors and stay in their basements.

Several homes in the area were set on fire as well.

Staff from the medical examiner’s office remove a body. Credit: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP

Police identified the man believed to be the shooter as Gabriel Wortman, 51, who was thought to live part-time in Portapique.

Authorities said he wore a police uniform at one point and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle.

Police first announced that they had arrested Wortman at a gas station in Enfield, outside Halifax, but later said he had died.

It was not clear how the death occurred and police did not explain further.

RCMP identified the gunman as Gabriel Wortman. Credit: Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil called the attack “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history".

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will "mourn with the families of the victims, and help them get through this difficult time...

“As a country, in moments like these, we come together to support one another."

RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said many of the victims did not know the shooter.

“That fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” Chief Supt Leather said.

He added that police believe the gunman acted alone.

People at the scene of the shooting in Canada. Credit: AP

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada.

The country overhauled its gun-control laws after gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989.

Before this weekend's rampage, that had been the country's worst.

It is now illegal to possess an unregistered handgun or any kind of rapid-fire weapon in Canada.

The country also requires training, a personal risk assessment, two references, spousal notification and criminal record checks to purchase a weapon.