At least 16 people have been killed, including a police officer, after a gunman went on a shooting rampage in a Canadian town, officials have confirmed.
It is the deadliest attack in Canada’s history. The gunman, identified as Gabriel Wortman, was shot and killed, confirmed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a press conference on Sunday.
He was said to be partially dressed in the Mounties uniform and was driving a ‘mock-up’ police car at one point in the shooting spree, which took place on Saturday night in the small rural town of Portapique.
Police have provided no motive for the attack, but RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said the gunman’s attire ‘speaks to it not being a random act’.
He said: ‘In excess of 10 people have been killed. We believe it to be one person who is responsible for all the killings and that he alone moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides.’
President of the National Police Federation union, Brian Sauve, said a police officer was among those killed in the shooting, and another was injured who was taken to hospital.
‘Our hearts are heavy with grief and sadness today as we have lost one of our own,’ said Mr Sauve. ‘A second dedicated member was injured in the line of duty.’ At around 10.30pm on Saturday, police received a call about a ‘person with firearms’ which ‘evolved into an active shooting investigation,’ said a police spokeswoman.
Frightened local residents were advised to lock their home and take cover in their basements overnight. Several building fires were also reported by residents as well.
Resident Christine Mills said it had been a frightening night for the small town, with armed officers patrolling the streets. In the morning, helicopters flew overhead searching for the suspect.
‘It’s nerve-wracking because you don’t know if somebody has lost their mind and is going to beat in your front door,’ she said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: ‘My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation.’
Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil said: ‘I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia. ‘This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,’ he said.
He said it was an additional ‘heavy burden’ amid efforts to contain the new coronavirus. Tom Taggart, a lawmaker who represents the Portapique area in the municipality of Colchester, said the quiet community has been shaken. ‘This is just an absolutely wonderful, peaceful quiet community and the idea that this could happen in our community is unbelievable.’