More than 100 officers responded to rampage; several on leave of absence

ENFIELD: The well-being of the Nova Scotia RCMP officers who made the initial response to the rampage on April 18-19 in Portapique and then those to incidents in Shubenacadie and Enfield is continuing to be monitored.

More than 100 officers from across the Colchester/Pictou County/East Hants and Halifax area responded to the shootings by a gunman that left 22 dead. It’s the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, and a first-ever of it’s kind in the province of Nova Scotia.

RCMP officers were initially called at about 10:01 p.m. about a shots fired complaint on April 18. Shortly upon arrival, it was clear the call was more than just shots fired.

N.S. RCMP spokesman Const. Hans Ouellette said the shooting has been traumatizing for some of the members who responded, especially the first units to the scene.

“The RCMP do have members who are on leave as a result of the incidents of April 18 and 19,” said Const. Ouellette in an email to The Laker News. “The needs of RCMP employees are being assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

He said the leave of absences have not impacted coverage of the communities they are assigned.

“As Canada’s national police force, we are able to draw on our significant resources to ensure that frontline policing services are not impacted by incidents like this one,” he said.

The manhunt ended at the gas pumps at the Enfield Irving Big Stop. (Sean DeWitt/Waterfront Media)

In Shubenacadie, the gunman—in a replica police cruiser and dressed as an RCMP officer–was stopped by Const. Heidi Stevenson when their cars collided near Hwy 2/224 by the church. This happened after he had shot and injured Const. Chad Morrisson at a meeting spot he and Stevenson had previously arranged; Morrison thought it was Stevenson pulling beside him when it was the gunman.

Good Samaritan Joey Webber, a father from Wyse’s Corner, came upon the two police cruisers. He was shot by the gunman as he attempted to helpout.

The gunman took Webber’s car and went to the home of Shubenacadie resident Gina Goulet, a short drive from the horrific scene. He killed her and changed out of his police uniform, taking Goulet’s vehicle.

A short time later, he was killed by two officers who recognized him as they pulled up to gas at the Enfield Big Stop, ending his 13 hour of terror.

RCMP are providing debriefings from it’s Division Wellness Team, although COVID19 is impacting some of that but only in the form of requiring larger rooms for the debriefings and PPE use.

Const. Ouellette said that counselling is being done through a tele-health format, but it’s still being provided.

“The RCMP’s Division Occupational Health Services office continues to be available to provide occupational health support to our members,” said Const. Ouellette. “Our divisional psychologist, health services officer, and nurses have visited a number of sites and continue to support our members.”

He said the shooting was a “complex and dynamic situation.”

“While the situation was unfolding, the Critical Incident Program was engaged,” said Const. Ouellette. “Specialized units responded, including Police Dog Services and Emergency Response Team members. There was also Explosive Disposal Unit Crisis Negotiators and Emergency Medical Response Teams that were part of the critical incident package.

“Within a very short period of time, we also engaged specialized units and resources from neighbouring divisions in New Brunswick.”

Police cruisers near Exit 7 on April 19. (Sean DeWitt/Waterfront Media)

Const. Ouellette said the force’s Division Wellness Team has attended a number of detachments that were involved in the response and has provided face-to-face support to front-line members.

“We have secured additional psychologists to hep conduct debriefings across the province and to provide telephone assessment and screening of employees involved in this incident,” he said. “We have conducted several debriefings so far and will continue to schedule debriefing sessions for all the officers involved in the incidents of April 18/19.”