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RCMP provide an update on NS shooting, no inquiry yet

Police have now interviewed 650 people related to their investigation.

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The incidents that started in Portapique on April 18 may eventually lead to institutional change. - RCMP NS
  • RCMP NS
  • The incidents that started in Portapique on April 18 may eventually lead to institutional change.
On Thursday, June 4, Nova Scotia RCMP provided an update on the shooting events of April 18 and 19 that shook the province to its core and left 22 people dead. “For Nova Scotians, there will always be a before April 18 and an after,” says assistant aommissioner Lee Bergerman, commanding officer of NS RCMP.

After 45 days of investigating, police continue to reveal new information about what happened that weekend, and the RCMP response. They say they’re informing those close to the shooting in advance of information being given to the public.

“It’s important to acknowledge the tremendous loss and trauma experienced by victims and that of their families,” says RCMP superintendent Darren Campbell. “When information is released publicly it may cause distress for family and others.”

So far, over 650 people have been interviewed related to the shootings, from across Canada and into the United States. Police say one major part of their investigation up to this point has been tracking down where the gunman acquired a variety of RCMP replica equipment, and finding out if anyone helped him.

“The investigative objectives remain the same, and that includes determining if anyone had any knowledge of the gunman’s plans or if anyone provided assistance to him in any way,” says Campbell.

In terms of the weapons the gunman used, RCMP say three of the four guns owned by the shooter (there were five guns involved if you count constable Heidi Stevenson's  stolen firearm) were acquired by the gunman after a 2011 Officer Safety Bulletin was circulated, warning officers that he ”was experiencing a mental health crisis and was in possession of a handgun and rifle, that he disliked the police and that he wanted to kill a police offer.”

But RCMP say responding officers on April 18 and 19 didn’t have access to that safety bulletin, as archives are purged after two years.

Campbell confirmed that RCMP now know where the gunman acquired those guns, and didn't rule out that charges could be laid.

“Our job is to uncover evidence and gather sufficient evidence to present to public prosecution services, so that they may be in a position to prosecute anyone that may have committed any illegal acts,” he says. “We are actively engaged in having dialogue…with respect to what charges, if any, will result from that.”

He also said the weapons investigation involves both domestic and international law enforcement agencies, and even a weapon that was once in the possession of the government.

“Three were obtained from the United States, one was obtained illegally in Canada through the estate of a deceased associate of the gunman,” says Campbell.

Police also revealed that the gunman had a “familial association” with two retired RCMP members, and an association with a member of another, non-RCMP police force.

“Both of these retired members were estranged from the gunman and both fully cooperated,” says Campbell, adding the same about the third officer.

In terms of the vehicles the gunman drove, police say that the four Ford Tauruses he owned were bought through local auction, and equipment installed on them was purchased via online auction.

“The installation of some of this equipment was carried out by the gunman and by some of his associates, including Portapique-area neighbours and residents,” said Campbell.

The RCMP decals on one of the cars were realistic reproductions printed locally.

“Management of the local printer-manufacturer was not aware that this was taking place, and they continue to cooperate with the investigation,” Campbell says.

RCMP also used the June 4 press conference to clarify misinformation, stating that the gunman did not pull over citizens in the replica RCMP cruiser he was driving, and that Stevenson didn’t “ram” the gunman’s vehicle.

“While constable Stevenson’s and the gunman’s vehicles collided, we do not believe that constable Stevenson rammed the gunman’s vehicle,” says Campbell.

RCMP ended the press conference by thanking families of the victims and residents of Portapique.

“I would just end by expressing my thanks to the victims' families for their patience and understanding as we work through this,” said Campbell. “I want to make it clear that we are fully committed to doing a very thorough and proper investigation. You are at the forefront of our minds.”

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