ENFIELD: An RCMP officer is among the 17 fatalities following a mass shooting that began in Portapique, Colchester County and ended with the gunman being shot dead by police in Enfield, HRM.
Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force and mother of two, was killed in the line of duty during the manhunt. Const. Stevenson was stationed at the Enfield RCMP detachment.
A memorial of sorts has started to build at the detachment with two youngsters, Page and Brock Andrews, creating a sign for the RCMP members showing their support. They placed it on the lawn in front of the detachment Sunday night, April 19.
The rampage began on Saturday night around 10:30 p.m. when RCMP responded to a call in the rural community of Portapique, located near Economy. It lasted 12 hours and saw multiple fatalities and two structure fires which the fire department could not respond to as a result of the active shooter being on the loose.
Nova Scotia RCMP said the gunman was 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman. He led police on a chase along several highways throughout the Truro-Shubenacadie areas, before the manhunt came to an end at the Enfield Irving Big Stop. That’s where police shot and killed Wortman, who owns two denture offices in Halifax.
At a press conference at supper hour at RCMP headquarters, police said theyw ere looking at “in excess of 10 people dead” from the gunman. That number rose a short time later when RCMP Commissoner Brenda Lucki told CBC National News police know of at least 13 victims, besides the shooter. She also confirmed the incident is not terror-related at this time.
That unfortunate number rose to 16 dead, not including the shooter, as of 10:15 p.m. on April 19.
Police said there may be more victims who have not been discovered yet and their investigation continues.
Premier Stephen McNeil commented on the shootings during a COVID19 press briefing on the afternoon of April 19.
“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,” said McNeil. “This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history.
“To the families of the victims, and to those who are still feeling afraid, my heart goes out to you. Know that all Nova Scotians are with you.”
In a media briefing Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked police for their work.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation,” Trudeau said.
The PM also reached out to the RCMP commissioner and Premier McNeil to offer his condolences on behalf of the federal government.
A second officer, also believed to be from the Enfield detachment, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Local grocery stores and shops in the Elmsdale and Fall River had their places go into lockdown mode as word of the manhunt coming closer became apparent. Both stores did so in a calm manner, and customers praised that effort on EHWTK fb page.
Municipality of East Hants Warden Jim Smith issued a statement on Const. Stevenson’s line of duty death.
“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Heidi Stevenson, the RCMP officer killed today in the line of duty,” said Smith. “We are also thinking of the others who lost their lives and those who were injured because of this tragedy including a second RCMP officer.”
In honour of her life, the flags at the Lloyd E. Matheson Centre will be lowered.
“This is a tragic day,” Smith said. “But even in tragedy, it is important to give thanks.”
Smith thanked the residents who heeded the RCMP’s warnings and remained safe inside their homes.
“We know you were scared and feel this tragedy as deeply as we do,” he said. “Let’s come together now to wrap our arms around our neighbours and RCMP officers as we process what has happened today and move forward together but apart.
“We also thank all of the first responders who were on duty today and who will never forget what took place.”
“Finally, we thank the RCMP for apprehending the suspect and the measures they took to keep Nova Scotians safe. Today and always, I along with the Council and staff of the Municipality of East Hants stand with our RCMP.”
We will continue to update this story as we are provided information.