What We Know—and Don't Know—About the Nova Scotia Shooting

Canada is trying to piece together exactly what happened during the country's deadliest modern-day shooting that killed at least 19 people in Nova Scotia over the weekend.
RCMP officer inspects Nova Scotia crime scene
An RCMP officer inspects vehicles destroyed by fire at the residence of Alanna Jenkins and Sean McLeod, two victims of the deadly shooting. Photo by Andrew Vaughan (CP)

Updated on April 22 at 5:15 p.m. (EDT): Canadians continue to mourn the country’s worst ever modern-day mass killing, which took place in Nova Scotia on Saturday night into Sunday morning, and left at least 22 people dead. The RCMP has been slow to release details as the country tries to piece together what exactly happened before and during the horrific incident.

Here's what we know:

  • At least 22 people, including an RCMP officer, a teacher, two nurses, and a 17-year-old, are dead.
  • The RCMP confirmed that while the suspect knew at least some of his victims, he killed many at random.

  • Police first learned of the killing spree when they went to a home in Portapique, roughly 125 kilometres north of Halifax, after receiving a firearms call Saturday at about 10:30 p.m.
  • The 51-year-old suspect, Gabriel Wortman, dressed as a police officer in an authentic uniform before hopping into a replica RCMP vehicle on Saturday night. He travelled along a stretch of roughly 100 kilometres, from Portapique (roughly 125 kilometres north from Halifax), south to Shubenacadie, and into Enfield. He committed heinous acts of violence at 16 crime scenes along the way, according to the RCMP. Five structures were set on fire, mostly residences.
  • When the mock police cruiser was destroyed at some point, the shooter was able to get a citizen’s silver Chevy Tracker before he continued committing crimes.
  • A police chase led to a shootout between RCMP and Wortman outside of an Enfield gas station that ended the killing 12-hour spree. Wortman was shot dead mid-Sunday on scene.
  • RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson died while responding to the active shooter. Const. Chad Morrison suffered gunshot injuries, and was released from hospital on Monday.
  • The shooter did not have an active firearm license, RCMP said on Wednesday.
  • Wortman, who grew up in New Brunswick, ran two seemingly successful denture clinics, one in Halifax and one in Dartmouth. The clinics were closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • According to the Toronto Star, Wortman already had a prior conviction from 2002 following an assault he committed on October 29, 2001. The victim, who was 15 at the time, told the Star that he was waiting for the bus outside of one of Wortman’s denture clinics when Wortman ran out, smelling of booze, and hit the victim in the back of the head. Wortmanwas conditionally discharged and ordered “not to own, possess or carry a weapon, ammunition, or explosive substance,” according to court documents. Wortman also had to attend anger-management sessions.

  • According to the Globe and Mail, Wortman struggled with alcohol addiction and was obsessed with the RCMP. “He was really into police memorabilia,” a neighbour told the Globe.
  • The RCMP sent out alerts warning of the shooting spree while it was ongoing via Twitter and Facebook, but were late to request an emergency alert that could have notified residents directly through their cellphones. They were working on a push alert at the same time that the shooter was killed on Sunday.
  • The military will be providing Nova Scotia RCMP with generators, tents, and lights as well as 30 military personnel, reports Global News.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Wortman’s motivations remain unclear, but the RCMP said at least part of his crimes were likely premeditated.
  • The RCMP has not confirmed which victims Wortman knew, nor what relation he had to them.

  • Police have not said what weapons the shooter used, and whether they were legal firearms.
  • Because Wortman did not have a firearms licence, police are trying to determine how he got hold of a gun. RCMP have not disclosed what kind of gun Wortman used. They are also trying to find out how he accessed an authentic police uniform.
  • Even though we know Stevenson died while responding to the shooting, RCMP have not disclosed how she died.
  • Details surrounding Wortman’s death on scene have not been released either.
  • The 16 crime scenes haven't been made public.
  • The RCMP is still investigating how Wortman found and accessed the silver Chevy Tracker.

Clarification, April 21, 2020: The RCMP said on Tuesday there were 23 victims, but amended that statement in a Twitter reply to say the number included 22 victims, plus the shooter.

Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.