(Updated on April 23, 11 a.m. EDT) A Nova Scotia man who went on a shooting spree Saturday night and well into Sunday has killed at least 22 people.
The rampage marks the worst mass murder in modern Canadian history.
The victims include RCMP veteran Const. Heidi Stevenson, an elementary school teacher, and two health care workers.
Speaking to Canadians Monday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the shooting as an act of “senseless violence” that took place in small towns, where people look out for each other.
“These communities are in mourning and Canada is in mourning with them,” Trudeau said. “We are so sorry for your loss. Such a tragedy should have never occurred. Violence of any kind has no place in Canada.”
If you'd like to share a story about a loved one who was killed in the Nova Scotia shootings, contact Manisha Krishnan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Anya Zoledziowski at email@example.com.
Trudeau said public vigils can’t take place because they would violate physical distancing measures in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, a virtual vigil will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday. It will be accessible through a Colchester community page on Facebook.
Here’s what we've learned about the victims so far. This list will be updated.
Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), was one of the first victims identified following the deadly shooting spree in Nova Scotia. She was responding to the active shooter when she died, but the circumstances of her death have not been confirmed yet.
“She died protecting others,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday. “She was answering the call of duty—something she had done every day she went to work for 23 years.”
Stevenson, who is originally from Nova Scotia, was a wife and mother of two children, ages 10 and 13. Her husband, Dean Stevenson, teaches at a Halifax-area high school, according to the Globe and Mail.
“There are no words to describe their pain,” Nova Scotia Commanding Officer Lee Bergerman told reporters on Sunday. “Two children have lost their mother and a husband has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.”
Lisa McCully was a mother of two young girls and a grade 3 and 4 teacher at Debert Elementary School.
Her sister, Jenny Kierstead, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday, “This is so hard to write but many of you will want to know. Our hearts are broken today as we attempt to accept the loss of my sister, Lisa McCully, who was one of the victims of the mass shooting in Portapique last night (Saturday).”
Last month, McCully posted a video to Facebook of her and two young kids singing “Tonight You Belong to Me.”
“Here’s a little goodnight song to all our family and friends. We miss you,” McCully says in the video as she plays the ukulele.
Paul Wozney, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday, “9300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives.”
Ruth Janes, a close friend of McCully’s who said she talked to her daily, has started a GoFundMe page for McCully’s two children. “Lisa did absolutely everything and would do absolutely anything for her two kids (and anyone else’s too,” the page says.
Heather O’Brien is a wife, mother, grandmother, and nurse. She worked as a licensed practical nurse with the Victorian Order of Nurses team for about 17 years.
“She shared her deep caring of others,” said VON president, Jo-Anne Poirier, in a statement released Monday.
O’Brien’s daughter confirmed the death in a Facebook post Sunday: “A monster murdered my mother,” said her daughter, Darcy Dobson, adding that by 10:15 p.m. Saturday, her mother was gone. In the post, Dobson said she wants her mother to be remembered for her kindness, her passion for her career as a nurse, and “the way her eyes sparkled when she talked to her grandchildren.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a close family friend in support of O’Brien’s husband Teddy.
Kristen Beaton was a continuing-care assistant for the Victorian Order of Nurses for more than five years.
According to the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), Beaton dedicated her life to caring for the province’s most vulnerable. “She was killed on the job, doing this critical work during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the NSGEU said in a statement on Monday. “In the aftermath of her loss, her husband has asked us all to use our voices to advocate for proper protections and equipment for all of the coworkers who remain on the job during this crisis.”
Her husband Nick Beaton posted on Facebook Monday morning, “She cried (every day) before and (every day) after work scared to bring this covid home to her son she loved more than I could even imagine anyone could love one person.”
He goes on to say that she was doing a job she truly loved. “So please for Kristen’s sake protect the ones who are protecting us,” he said.
Nick told CTV that Kristen was pregnant with their second child and they were planning to tell friends and family the news this week.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help “the two loves of her life”: Nick and their 3-year-old son, Dax.
Corrie Ellison, 42, and his brother, Clinton, were visiting their father in Portapique when the deadly massacre took place, ultimately claiming Ellison’s life.
The brothers heard a gunshot at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, so they looked outside and noticed a glow caused by a nearby fire, Clinton told CBC News.
Ellison decided to investigate, despite his father’s pleas to stay indoors, and found the blaze. He called his brother and father from the site, urging them to call the fire department.
They would never hear from him again.
Clinton decided to search for his brother after a disconcerting amount of time had passed, flashlight in hand. He found Ellison’s still body on the side of the road—and then turned off his light and ran for his life.
Clinton hid from the shooter for hours in the woods, hoping police would appear.
Clinton said he wants his brother to be remembered for his thoughtfulness and kindness.
"My brother was a really good guy," Clinton said. "He helped people that he could."
It was 3 a.m. on Monday when Ashley Fennel first learned Ellison was one of the victims. She told VICE she immediately sent Ellison a message—asking him to go for a drive—because she didn’t want to believe the news.
“I was hoping they got the wrong person,” Fennel said.
According to Fennel, Ellison was a “beautiful soul,” always ready to help those around him.
The two have been friends for about nine years—since Ellison helped Fennel overcome addiction.
Ellison became a big part of Fennel’s support system; anytime Fennel needed support, Ellison was there, ready to take Fennel out for a coffee.
The two often spent summer days going swimming together. Over Christmas, Ellison helped Fennel with some financial struggles as well, Fennel said.
“It’s hard to believe that this is true,” Fennel said. “Corrie was awesome. I want everyone to know just how special he really is.”
On Facebook, Clinton Ellison shared a photo of him and his brother Corrie as children with their father, the Globe and Mail reported. “RIP my brother,” Clinton wrote in the caption Monday morning. “(He was) killed for going to help someone.”
A woman who referred to Ellison as her cousin took to Facebook to pay tribute to her lost loved one. “Just texted him this (morning) to see if his dad was OK...not knowing he was out (in Portapique) and already killed,” Juliene Henderson wrote.
Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck, and Emily Tuck
Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck, and their 17-year-old daughter Emily Tuck were killed in their home, according to a GoFundMe page started by Jolene’s sister.
Tammy Oliver-McCurdie wrote that all of the family’s relatives are in Alberta and they need help paying for funeral expenses in another province.
On Facebook, a woman who said her son was Emily’s boyfriend wrote a tribute to Emily.
“This young lady of 17 was one of the smartest girls I know. Could fix anything with her hands cause her dad taught her that and could play strings that made you feel just at peace!” the post said. “(Seventeen) years old graduating this year, still so much life ahead.”
Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins
Taylor Andrews, 23, last saw her father Sean McLeod on Friday when he dropped off groceries for her at her home.
Andrews lives with her husband and their 22-month-old daughter Ellie in Debert, Nova Scotia, about 20 minutes from where McLeod, 44, and his partner Alanna Jenkins, 36, lived in Wentworth.
The two corrections officers are believed to have been killed in their home, though Andrews said that still hasn’t been confirmed to her by police.
When McLeod dropped off the groceries, Ellie started shouting “grampy!” excitedly, a word she’d just learned.
“He was sitting in his truck grinning with his phone up taking a picture of her in the window,” Andrews said. She said her dad and Jenkins adored her daughter and helped take care of her often.
“He thought she was the sun. Everything revolved around her. She did no wrong.”
Growing up, Andrews said her dad would be cheering in the stands to support her and her sister during their swim competitions. During hunting season, “he would lug me through the woods to go lay apples,” she said. When he and Jenkins got together in 2015, she said “he finally found the person he was supposed to be with.”
Andrews said Jenkins was more like a best friend than a mother. They went to concerts together, and spent days in the summer hanging out by the river at Jenkins and McLeod’s house.
“She’d make sure she had boxes of wine, my favourite drink, everything, when we went over.”
The couple loved sun vacations. They’d visited Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, and had planned a trip to Florida this winter that was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Andrews said her father knew the gunman as an acquaintance at best. She said their neighbour, Tom Bagley, went to check on the couple. Bagley was also killed.
She said the road where her dad and Jenkins lived was its own community. They hosted a “camp crawl” where people would go to one another’s yards to have drinks and hang out by a fire.
She said her father worked as a corrections officer for 25 years and couldn’t wait to retire and “have a house full of grandbabies.”
Andrews said it sucks that her family can’t get together to grieve.
“They were both corrections officers so you can imagine the funeral they would have,” she said. “I think they deserve to have that.”
A GoFundMe has been started to support Andrews, her sister, and Ellie.
Tom Bagley was a volunteer firefighter who worked for three decades as part of the fire brigade at Halifax International Airport up until 2006. As reported by the Chronicle Herald and CBC, Bagley was shot and killed Sunday morning near the explosion on Hunter Road in West Wentworth. He had reportedly been checking in on Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins, who were his neighbours, McLeod’s daughter, Taylor Andrews, told VICE.
His daughter Charlene Bagley referred to him as a “beautiful soul” in a Facebook post late Sunday. “He died trying to help which if you knew him, you knew that was just who he was all the time. I know he meant something to so many people.” She said friends and family described him as a hero, and someone who was caring and always making people laugh.
Leah Batstone, a spokesperson for Halifax International Airport Authority, told VICE in an email, “We’d like to share our deepest condolences to his loved ones, and to all the Nova Scotians impacted by this unimaginable situation, at this incredibly challenging time.”
Lillian Hyslop frequented the Wentworth Valley for her regular hikes, often sporting a bright reflective vest, the Chronicle Herald reported.
Early Sunday, a team of locals started calling everyone who frequently strolled the area, warning of the ongoing shooting spree. By the time someone called the Hyslop residence, Hyslop was already gone.
Hyslop’s husband, Mike, went to find his wife after receiving the harrowing phone call. Police stopped Mike and asked what Hyslop was wearing. Then, they broke the devastating news.
Hyslop was shot dead on the side of the road while out exercising in her neon vest.
Avid hiker Debi Atkinson used to pass Hyslop at the Wentworth Valley all the time. She told the Herald that Hyslop’s life could have been saved if the province issued an emergency alert.
“I could have saved Lillian's life if I had known 45 minutes before that,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said Hyslop was a friendly, down-to-earth woman who volunteered a lot.
Hyslop’s mother-in-law, Carol Hyslop, confirmed to VICE that Hyslop was one of the victims.
Hyslop’s walking partner and neighbour, Heather Matthews, told CBC News that Hyslop was a kind and quiet person with “great community spirit.”
Jamie and Greg Blair
Married couple Jamie and Greg Blair are among the dead. According to the Canadian Press they were gunned down in their Portapique home.
“I honestly don’t really know what happened. They were both shot. That’s all we know, we don’t know why. We don’t know,” Greg’s sister, Kelly Blair, told CP.
Jamie’s aunt, Judy MacBurnie, told CP that the pair has two small children, who are now with their grandparents. Greg also has two sons from a previous relationship.The couple also reportedly ran a business specializing in servicing, selling, and installing natural gas and propane units in the area where the shooting took place.
In a public post shared more than 1,700 times on Facebook as of Monday afternoon, relative Jessica MacBurnie honoured the Blairs: “Two beautiful souls were lost today,” she said.
“My heart is breaking for my family, my heart is breaking for everyone else suffering through this tragedy,” MacBurnie said.
A GoFundMe page called “Showing love and strength for Greg and Jamie’s boys” has been set up by someone named Christine Toole.
Joanne Thomas and John Zahl
Joanne Thomas and John Zahl lived next door to the gunman, according to a GoFundMe page set up for their two sons by a woman named Gena Lawson. They are missing and presumed dead.
One of their sons, Justin, 22, told the CBC he hasn’t heard from them since Saturday evening and that John didn’t show up Monday to take him to an appointment. He said police told him to “prepare for the worst.”
The fundraiser said the couple lived in a home on Portapique Beach Road that was burned down; their cats are also missing.
“Both of them were volunteers at St. James Presbyterian Church often and Joanne was the head of the ‘Laundry Project,’ a nonprofit group that helps people in need have clean laundry,” the GoFundMe says.
Gina Goulet, 54, was a denturist in Shubenacadie. Her daughter, Amelia Butler, confirmed to the National Post that her mother was one of the victims.
She told the Post that her mother had fought hard for her life: Goulet beat cancer—twice. In 2016, Goulet was diagnosed with brain cancer, and despite all odds, she survived, Butler said. Late last year, Goulet was diagnosed with cancer again and had almost beat it by the time she was shot and killed.
Goulet loved to salsa dance and travelled to Cuba when she could, Butler said.
“That was the place where she was the happiest,” Butler added.
Goulet’s sister, Micheline Kerekes, wrote on Facebook that she’s an “angel now” while a friend described her in a Facebook post as someone who was “funny, feisty, and loved to dance.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by someone named Daniel MacDougall on behalf of Goulet’s daughter Amelia.
Dawn and Frank Gulenchyn
Dawn and Frank Gulenchyn were longtime Oshawa residents who recently moved to Nova Scotia, according to Durham Radio News.
Dawn Gulenchyn was employed at Hillside Terraces, a long-term care home, for decades, according to a statement from John Henry, Durham regional chair and chief executive officer.
“This tragedy hits especially close to home, as two of the victims were longtime Durham residents. Dawn, who was a former employee working at Hillsdale Terraces long-term care home for decades and retired in 2019, and her husband Frank,” he said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the couple’s son, Jon Farrington, set up by Jon’s friends and colleagues. On Facebook, the couple’s other son, Ryan Farrington, wrote, “I love you mom and Frank.”
On Sunday morning, Joey Webber went out to run an errand for his family in a rural community near Antrim and never returned, according to his neighbour, Halifax city councillor Steve Streatch. He was a father to two young girls.
Streatch described him as a hard worker and attentive dad. “I'd see Joey on my way to City Hall; he just lived down the road. He'd be standing at the bus stop and always wave with a big smile while he was watching over and making sure his children got on the school bus,” he said.
Webber worked in forestry at the local pulp mill but had been laid off recently because it was shut down. He was the sole provider for his family according to a GoFundMe page started by his sister-in-law.
Peter and Joy Bond
Portapique couple Peter and Joy Bond appear to be among the 22 victims.
On Facebook, Peter’s cousin, Deanna Gionet, said she will “never understand heartless inhumane acts like this.”
The Sea View Full Gospel Church also wrote a Facebook post expressing heartfelt condolences to the couple's families. A memorial group for the victims of the shooting showed a video of a drive-by of people in support of the Bond’s son Cory.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help the couple’s sons Cory and Harry.
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.