Workers with the medical examiner's office remove a body from a gas bar in Enfield, N.S. on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

‘Mere coincidence’: N.S. gunman killed after Mounties pull up at gas pump next to him

‘Mere coincidence’: N.S. gunman killed after Mounties pull up at gas pump next to him

HALIFAX — A new report from an independent police watchdog reveals that the April 19 fatal shooting of the Nova Scotia mass killer occurred after two RCMP officers happened to pull up at a gas pump next to the gunman’s vehicle.

Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team says when the officers arrived at the Enfield, N.S., gas station, it was not known Gabriel Wortman had switched vehicles and was driving a grey Mazda3 stolen from a victim.

Police at the point believed Wortman was driving a Chevrolet Tracker taken from an earlier victim.

“It was a mere coincidence when the (officers) stopped to refuel their vehicle that unbeknown to them, the (suspect) was at an adjacent pump sitting in a vehicle that the (officers) were not on the lookout for,” says the report by watchdog director Felix Cacchione, published Thursday.

It says when the officer who was driving got out to refuel, he saw a man with a noticeable injury and blood on his forehead.

The driver recognized the gunman, who had killed 22 people in a rampage beginning the previous night, from photos that had been posted at an RCMP command post, the report says. The officers themselves had seen firsthand the carnage in the village of Portapique, N.S., the report notes.

It says the Mountie drew his service weapon and “yelled out” to his partner that Wortman was in the vehicle next to theirs.

The second officer then moved across the front of the vehicle and Wortman raised the pistol he had stolen from RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, whom he had killed about 30 minutes earlier. Both officers opened fire, and Wortman died at the scene, the report says.

It notes that in addition to Stevenson’s stolen service pistol, the Mazda contained a loaded .40-calibre Glock pistol, two semi-automatic assault rifles with loaded overcapacity magazines and an empty semi-automatic pistol.

There was also a cardboard box with ammunition and a metal can containing various loaded ammunition magazines on the front passenger seat.

The police watchdog concludes the officers, who are not identified, were justified in their actions and no charges are warranted. The investigation drew on statements from the two officers who fired on the gunman as well as other witness officers, statements from 10 civilian witnesses, forensic reports and videos from the gas station.

Enfield is about 35 kilometres north of Halifax, and documents released last week suggest Wortman had planned to “get” two people in Halifax during his rampage.

The partially redacted RCMP search warrant applications, released Dec. 9, say the Mounties were warned of this by his common-law spouse, and Halifax Regional Police officers were dispatched to an unidentified residence where they provided protection to two people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia

Just Posted

An incredible closing ceremony capped off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo by SUSAN JUDGE/2019 Canada Winter Games)
2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society hands out $655,000

35 not-for-profit groups across Alberta to get money

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, says COVID ICU patients have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past month. (Photo by The Government of Alberta)
Record number of people in ICU: says AHS president

The head of Alberta Health Services says hospital staff are treating more… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

Alexander Michael Talbot, 29, was found guilty of operating a vehicle while prohibited, flight from police and vehicle theft in Red Deer provincial court recently. (Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases in central Alberta last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix talk about phase two in B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. residents who had AstraZeneca vaccine can choose second-dose vaccine

B.C. residents who had AstraZeneca vaccine can choose second-dose vaccine

This image released by Forest Lake Camp shows campers boating and kayaking on the lake of the camp in Warrensburg, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Forest Lake Camp via AP
Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals tap another military officer to replace Fortin on vaccine campaign

Liberals tap another military officer to replace Fortin on vaccine campaign

Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The audit, ordered by the Arizona Senate, has the U.S. Department of Justice saying it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results. (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)
Republican Arizona election official says Trump “unhinged”

Republican Arizona election official says Trump “unhinged”

In this June 29, 2020 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

FILE - In this May 14, 2021, file photo, signs instruct visitors on the proper way to wear masks at the Universal City Walk in Universal City, Calif. California is keeping its rules for wearing facemasks in place until the state more broadly lifts its pandemic restrictions on June 15. State officials said Monday, May 17 that the delay will give people time to prepare, and for the state to make sure that virus cases stay low. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
California will stay masked for another month

California will stay masked for another month

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby on pushing boundaries, pursuing his vision

Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby on pushing boundaries, pursuing his vision

Most Read