RCMP are probing exactly how the rampage unfolded that left 16 people as a man travelled across northern Nova Scotia over the weekend, in an April 20, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Probe into mass killing in Nova Scotia continues as province grapples with the violence

Investigators are continuing to piece together one of Canada’s deadliest mass killings, which saw a man who at one point donned a police uniform slay 16 people as he travelled across northern Nova Scotia over the weekend.

An RCMP officer, Const. Heidi Stevenson, is counted among the dead.

Also killed was Debert Elementary school teacher Lisa McCully.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union President President Paul Wozney identified McCully as one of the dead in a Facebook post.

“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,” he wrote.

Investigators have said the alleged shooter, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was also killed after police intercepted him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S.

His death is now being investigated by a police watchdog.

Meanwhile, RCMP are probing exactly how the rampage unfolded.

They say they were initially called to reports of a man with firearms in the small community of Portapique, N.S., on Saturday night.

There, officers found numerous people dead or wounded, both inside and outside a property. But Chief Insp. Chris Leather said that by the time police arrived, the shooter was gone.

An hours-long manhunt and eventual police chase ensued across a swath of the Maritime province, with officers providing periodic updates about the suspect’s whereabouts.

Leather said the killings appeared to be, “at least in part, very random in nature.”

Premier Stephen McNeil described the massacre as “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history.”

“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 in Nova Scotia,” McNeil said in Halifax on Sunday.

In a series of tweets, he added that all Nova Scotians would be affected by the tragedy.

“It’s okay to feel sad, or angry, or hopeless,” he wrote. ”But what’s not okay is to bear all of those feelings alone. Reach out to a loved one, a friend, a neighbour. And if you need more support, that’s okay too. The provincial crisis line is available 24/7: 1-888-429-8167.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2020.

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