Late in the evening on Saturday, April 18, RCMP first got word of an armed gunman in Portapique near East River Nova Scotia.
Within 12 hours, the rampage would end with at least 19 dead, including an RCMP officer.
The rural cottage community of Portapique on the Bay of Fundy is about an hour-and-a-half from Halifax, and only has 100 year-round residents.
At 11:30 pm police responded to multiple 911 calls about shots fired on Portapique Beach Road, Bay Shore Road and Five Houses Road.
By 8:00 am Sunday morning, Nova Scotia RCMP updated their Twitter account to say there was an “active shooter situation” in the area.
Police identified the suspect as Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year-old denturist who owned property in the area, and over the course of the morning tracked Wortman’s location across the province.
“RCMPNS is advising people to avoid Hwy 4 near Hidden Hilltop Campground in Glenholme. Gabriel Wortman is in the area,” said RCMP at just after 10:00 am on Sunday morning.
Police also reported sightings of the suspect in the towns of Central Onslow, Brookfield, and Milford. Wortman was reported to be armed and dangerous, and driving what “appeared to be” a police vehicle.
“His ability to move around the province undetected was surely greatly benefited by the fact that he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car,” said RCMP Criminal Operations Officer Chief Superintendent Chris Leather.
Just before noon on April 19, RCMP reported that Wortman had been taken into custody at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, over 100 km from where it was reported the incident began.
At a Sunday evening press conference, police confirmed that the suspect had died and, as protocol whenever an officer is involved in an incident, the death was referred to the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).
“We are in the early stages of an incredibly detailed and complex investigation,” said Leather.
RCMP also confirmed that one of their own was among the victims, Cst. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force and mother of two.
“Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served,” said RCMP Commanding Officer Lee Bergerman.
On Monday, police identified a second officer who was injured and is now recovering at home as Cst. Chad Morrison from Lantz, who has been with the RCMP for 11 years.
Leather said there are at least two additional people recovering in hospital. Police say there are 19 known victims as of Monday afternoon, and there may be more.
“We believe there may be victims still within the remains of those homes which were burned,” said Leather.
Police continue to work round-the-clock at 16 different crime scenes across the province.
Kids Help Phone also offers support over the phone or by text for youth and adults. Call 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868.
Check on your friends. Reach out to your neighbours.