Newly unsealed search warrant documents related to the Nova Scotia mass shooting are shedding light on how the gunman created the replica RCMP vehicle he used.
On April 18 and 19 of this year, Gabriel Wortman killed 22 people — including neighbours, strangers and an RCMP officer — and burned homes belonging to three couples he killed. Two men who were shot survived. The gunman travelled about 195 kilometres over a period of 13 hours before RCMP killed him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S.
During most of the rampage that started in the tiny community of Portapique, N.S., the 51-year-old denturist drove a decommissioned police vehicle that he had bought through a federal government auction site on June 27, 2019 for $10,990, according to RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk, who wrote the search warrant applications.
During a news conference in April, RCMP said the gunman bought the cruiser in the fall of 2019.
Though it would’ve been plain white and stripped of its accessories when the gunman purchased it, the documents released Monday show that for months, he worked to make it look identical to an actual RCMP cruiser.
He installed a push bar on the front bumper on Aug. 24, 2019, and emailed someone to say the car was a bigger job than he expected and it was his first time doing the work. The recipient’s name was redacted.
Even prior to purchasing that exact car, Wortman appeared to be making plans for a replica.
“Are you fellows able to do a complete decal set for an RCMP Ford Taurus sedan?” he wrote in a June 10, 2019 email to an American company, according to the search warrant documents.
The company responded the following day that it was passing on the job and getting away from custom orders.
He ended up getting the decals far closer to home, at a sign shop in Truro, N.S. RCMP have said one of the shop’s employees, Peter Griffon, printed the decals for Wortman without his boss’s knowledge.
Griffon was living in Portapique on parole in April after serving time for drug offences linked to organized crime. After initially lying to RCMP about printing the decals, the Parole Board of Canada ruled he violated the conditions of his release and sent him back to prison.
RCMP went on to obtain a search warrant to examine Griffon’s phone records and found he corresponded with Wortman a number of times via email and had photos of a police cruiser saved.
Griffon first sent Wortman multiple photos of an RCMP cruiser with decals on it at the end of July 2019. The photos were taken in a garage but it’s unclear from the court documents if they were of an actual cruiser. Just before Christmas, he sent a photo of lights on top of a cruiser.
A month before the massacre, Wortman wrote to Griffon saying “beers on Fridays” were suspended due to COVID-19. In a March 16 email, he assured Griffon, who was facing a layoff, that there would be plenty of odd jobs around his properties.
The morning of April 18, Wortman wrote Griffon saying he was going on a drive to celebrate his anniversary but they planned to work together the following day. Griffon was splitting wood for him in Portapique.
Shooter claimed cruiser was for parade
Summaries of interviews police conducted with people who knew the gunman show that Griffon wasn’t the only person aware that he was working on a replica car.
Aaron Tuck, his wife, Jolene Oliver, and their 17-year-old daughter, Emily, lived in Portapique and were among the victims on April 18.
Tuck’s best friend, whose name is redacted in the court documents, said he saw a white police cruiser and a package of decals in Wortman’s garage at some point in 2019.
During the 2019 visit, Wortman asked Tuck and his friend for help moving a chair and told them “he was fixing up the car to use in parades,” according to the court documents. He also explained to them he was buying accessories for the vehicle online.
While they were at his garage in Portapique, Tuck’s friend said Wortman showed off a police uniform as well as something that went with a holster and belt. The exact word is redacted.
Tuck’s friend said he’d heard Wortman liked to work on motorcycles in the garage that he’d outfitted with a big bay door and a bar. But he said he’d also heard that “Gabriel would terrorize people” while drinking, according to the court documents. He’d also tried to buy the Tuck’s property for far less than they hoped to sell it.
Other people who spoke to police have described the gunman as violent, paranoid and controlling.
Gunman had pandemic concerns
RCMP have previously said they believe fears about COVID-19 led Wortman to stockpile cash, food and fuel.
The shooter made reference to not being optimistic about the virus in emails released Monday.
The RCMP summary said Wortman wrote to someone that once money runs out people will become desperate and need guns. “Thank god we are well armed,” he wrote. The name of the person he was emailing is redacted.
Several people who have spoken to RCMP mentioned Wortman’s familiarity with guns.
In the newly unsealed documents, a man originally from New Brunswick told police that he and Wortman had gone to gun shows together and spent time together shooting in Maine. Another person told RCMP that Wortman was known to fire his gun into the ocean.
4 former cruisers
The car Wortman used during the shootings was one of four former cruisers he had purchased in recent years.
Through his company, Berkshire Broman Corp., he also bought a 2013 Ford Taurus from an auction on the federal procurement site for $2,998 in July 2019. He took possession of that car — which was also previously owned by the RCMP — on Oct. 2, 2019. It was parked in Dartmouth during the shootings.
Police found two more former police cruisers burned at his Portapique properties. He purchased one of those cruisers in March 2019.
The RCMP investigation continues nearly seven months after the mass shootings. Investigators have said determining how the gunman obtained the illegal weapons he used, the uniform he wore and whether he had help are key parts of the investigation.
So far, no one is facing charges.
Vehicle accessories bought online
The documents released Monday pertain to a request the RCMP made to search the gunman’s Amazon account.
In her sworn affidavit, Sgt. Hawryluk said the warrant pertains to murder, attempt to commit murder, weapons trafficking, unauthorized importation of firearms, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to import firearms.
Through search warrants, the RCMP also obtained information from PayPal Canada showing that between March 2019 and November 2019, Wortman spent at least $3,477 USD buying items, many of which appeared to relate to police car retrofits.
Some of the items he paid for during that time period included a police push bumper, two central consoles, rear window armour bars, a “prisoner transport partition” and an LED light bar. Most of these purchases date from late March 2019 to early April 2019 and were meant for police vehicles.
Other items Wortman purchased using a credit card included a gun rack and patches or decals featuring police themes such as the “thin blue line” and the Canadian flag.
Ontario premier returns to Queen's Park to make announcement – CTV Toronto
Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement at Queen’s Park today.
Ford returns today after he had to cancel his attendance at an announcement in Brampton, Ont. last minute on Tuesday due to an “unexpected, but non-COVID-related, non-urgent, medical appointment.”
On Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott led the news conference in Ford’s place, and announced that officials planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario are now speaking directly with the manufacturers of seven different candidate vaccines.
Speaking with reporters after touring a Brampton warehouse belonging to the pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson on Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that efforts are underway to make sure that Ontario will be in a position to distribute vaccines as of Dec. 31.
“We know this is going to be the largest logistical undertaking that we have had in Ontario in a generation,” she said. “We have to get this vaccine to every corner of this province. It is no small feat and we know we cannot do it alone.
Several of the companies, including Pfizer and Moderna Inc., have already applied for emergency use authorization in the United States but they will need to have their vaccines approved by Health Canada before they can be distributed.
British officials authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday, marking the world’s first science-backed shot against the disease.
Health Minister Christine Elliott will join the premier for the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
CTV News Toronto will livestream the announcement at 1 p.m.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq
Ontario premier and minister of health to make announcement from Queen's Park – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott are set to make an announcement from Queen’s Park Wednesday afternoon.
At a press conference on Tuesday Elliott confirmed that the province is speaking directly with the manufacturers of seven different COVID-19 vaccine candidates to ensure that Ontario will be able to distribute vaccines as of Dec. 31.
Elliott said the rollout of the vaccine will be “the largest logistical undertaking” the province has faced “in a generation.”
“As of yesterday we started speaking with vaccine manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Jansen, Moderna, GSK and Sanofi. This is absolutely critical for planning,” Elliott said. “We are also working with distribution experts like McKesson and Shoppers Drug Mart who not only have the warehouse capacity for vaccines like this but also know how to get these vaccines to their networks, including hospitals and other frontline care providers.”
Elliott has previously said that Ontario expects to receive a combined 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by March, which would be enough to vaccinate 1.2 million Ontarians. But the federal government has not confirmed that number.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did say that the first doses of the vaccines would arrive in Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and that the majority of Canadians would likely be vaccinated by next September.
Trudeau also acknowledged that Canada may ultimately trail behind the U.S. and the United Kingdom in the rollout of vaccines as Health Canada still needs to approve them before they can be distributed.
On Wednesday, British officials were the first worldwide to authorize Pfizer and BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
Pfizer said it will immediately start shipping out the vaccine and the British government said it will start inoculating residents as early as next week.
CP24.com will carry Ford’s announcement live at 1 p.m.
Record Toronto COVID-19 cases a ‘blunt warning’: Medical officer of health – CityNews Toronto
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is calling a second consecutive day of record COVID-19 cases a “blunt warning” that must be heeded to stop the spread of the virus.
The province earlier reported 727 new cases for Toronto, but in an update later Tuesday, de Villa boosted that number to 761.
“This figure represents a new high for a second consecutive day in the city,” she said in a release. “Today’s case counts are a blunt warning. COVID-19 continues to spread easily and widely.”
De Villa said research of COVID-19 data in the city shows that 1 in 5 infected people, or 21 per cent, confirmed that they had people visit their home, or went inside someone else’s home, where there were 10 people or less during the period they acquired the infection.
Other findings among infected people in Toronto:
- 21 per cent identified their spouse or partner as the source of illness
- 16 per cent identified a friend as the source of illness
- 16 per cent identified a co-worker as the source of illness.
In total, 35 per cent of cases reporting close contact indicated that their close contact with known cases were only non-household contacts. This underscores guidance to keep contact within your household,” De Villa’s release states.
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