Po­lice doc­u­ment paints pic­ture of dis­turbed man

Calgary Herald - - NP - ADRIAN HUMPHREYS

Be­fore en­gag­ing in his hor­rific killing spree, Gabriel Wort­man was “para­noid about the pan­demic” that shut­tered his den­ture clin­ics, a friend told po­lice. Yet four days be­fore his ram­page, he sent an email to another friend say­ing: “I am en­joy­ing this pre­lude to re­tire­ment.”

A series of odd and of­ten dis­turb­ing in­ter­ac­tions with the per­pe­tra­tor of the worst mass killing in Canada’s his­tory are re­vealed in a new po­lice doc­u­ment about the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The 40-page doc­u­ment, re­leased Tues­day, is heav­ily redacted of de­tails but still paints a dark pic­ture of the hor­ror faced by his vic­tims, the gun­man’s ap­par­ent men­tal state, alarm­ing predilec­tions and ready ar­se­nal.

It also in­cludes tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses who watched the ram­page un­fold over a ter­ri­fy­ing two days and a night last month.

The doc­u­ment was pre­pared April 24 by the RCMP to get a judge’s ap­proval to search Wort­man’s prop­er­ties after his ram­page. The doc­u­ment was or­dered re­leased as part of a larger re­quest by me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions.

A col­league who worked with Wort­man, 51, at one of his den­ture clin­ics said he suf­fered “a men­tal break­down,” the doc­u­ment says. The col­league said Wort­man was abu­sive and de­scribed him as “dis­turbed,” “very smart,” “a psy­chopath,” and claimed he was “se­verely abused as a young boy,” a con­tention some who knew him dis­pute.

He “would dress up as a po­lice of­fi­cer and would role­play,” the wit­ness told po­lice.

Another friend said Wort­man, who pre­vi­ously worked at a fu­neral home, talked about “get­ting rid of bod­ies.” The wit­ness said Wort­man claimed to have lime and muri­atic acid — sub­stances which could dis­solve bod­ies. He kept bar­rels of the stuff un­der his deck, po­lice were told.

An ac­quain­tance de­scribed him to po­lice as “a so­ciopath, abu­sive.” Yet another said he was “con­trol­ling and para­noid.”

A friend, how­ever, de­scribed him as “a per­son that peo­ple en­joy talking to,” the doc­u­ment says.

Two peo­ple told po­lice he bought $800 worth of gaso­line be­fore his mur­der spree. One said he also bought “propane bot­tles.” (Po­lice be­lieve Wort­man used gas to start fires at many of his crime scenes and to burn down his own prop­erty.)

And two wit­nesses, in­clud­ing Wort­man’s com­mon-law spouse, told po­lice he had a re­la­tion­ship to some­one in the RCMP — one said it was a re­tired RCMP mem­ber.

That is how he ob­tained parts of his uni­form, the wit­nesses said.

For much of the chaos, Wort­man mas­quer­aded as a Moun­tie and drove a car iden­ti­cal to an RCMP cruiser. From the evening of April 18 to mid­day on April 19, he killed 22 peo­ple and in­jured oth­ers.

Much has been made of Wort­man’s ob­ses­sion with po­lice and po­lice mem­o­ra­bilia. His spouse told po­lice, how­ever, it was not an in­ter­est born of ad­mi­ra­tion.

“Gabriel Wort­man wasn’t a po­lice of­fi­cer wannabe and didn’t like po­lice of­fi­cers and thought he was bet­ter than them,” the doc­u­ment says, sum­ma­riz­ing an in­ter­view with the woman, whose name is redacted from the doc­u­ment.

Be­cause the Crown has re­leased only one of many doc­u­ments re­quested, it is not known whether the in­for­ma­tion wit­nesses told po­lice proved to be true or not. The RCMP has not re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment.

Po­lice de­tail the en­coun­ters var­i­ous peo­ple had dur­ing the spree of shoot­ings that stained sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties, start­ing at Wort­man’s cot­tage in Por­tapique, about 135 kilo­me­tres north of Hal­i­fax.

The first was with his spouse.

Dur­ing the evening of April 18, Wort­man and the woman were at their prop­erty at 136 Or­chard Beach Dr. in Por­tapique, the doc­u­ment says.

They were hav­ing drinks and Facetim­ing friends. She sent a text about 8 p.m. to some­one, shar­ing a photo of her with Wort­man.

“Dur­ing the evening an ar­gu­ment en­sued” and Wort­man as­saulted her, the doc­u­ment says.

What she said hap­pened next is redacted, but she then told po­lice he “poured gaso­line all in­side the cot­tage” and lead­ing to the cot­tage, “so Gabriel could burn that.” He also poured gas onto the ve­hi­cles he was leaving be­hind.

She said she saw sev­eral firearms on the front seat of the fake po­lice car. She said Wort­man was re­lated to some­one in the RCMP and he “had one of his uniforms but it didn’t fit.”

He smashed her cell­phone and didn’t have one him­self, she said. More ma­te­rial is redacted un­til the doc­u­ment says the woman es­caped and fled into the woods.

“She heard male voices, then heard gun shots and then it was silent,” the doc­u­ment says.

The next morn­ing she emerged from hid­ing and went to a house to call 911. By then, po­lice were get­ting calls of shoot­ings through­out the area.

Early on, Wort­man in his fake po­lice cruiser pulled up along­side a ve­hi­cle that was drawn to the sight of Wort­man’s build­ings on fire. From two feet away he pulled a gun and the oc­cu­pants ducked, likely sav­ing their lives.

In a bizarre scene, as the driver waited for an am­bu­lance, he felt some­thing in­side his coat. He pulled out a bul­let that had nes­tled un­der his shirt.

Po­lice also found Clin­ton El­li­son, who had been hid­ing from the gun­man. He told po­lice he and his brother, Cor­rie, had been walk­ing on the beach when Cor­rie was shot dead.

One wit­ness vividly de­scribed Wort­man’s en­counter with RCMP Const. Heidi Steven­son dur­ing the man­hunt for the shooter.

The wit­ness, whose name is redacted, heard a pop­ping sound and thought the sid­ing was com­ing off the house, be­cause it was windy, but then re­al­ized it was gun­fire.

The wit­ness saw “two Moun­tie cars smashed to­gether,” a ref­er­ence to Wort­man’s fake cruiser that col­lided head-on with Steven­son’s cruiser.

“The bald man was do­ing a lot of gun­fire,” said the wit­ness, who “thought the bald guy was a Moun­tie be­cause you could see the shirt and you could see the white and green vest.

“But it seemed funny … that the bald man would be shoot­ing at a Moun­tie.”

A grey SUV pulled up near the two dis­abled cruis­ers, the wit­ness told po­lice. The de­tails of what hap­pened next are redacted, but it ended with Joseph Webber be­ing shot dead.

The “bald man” then opened the trunk of his fake po­lice car and, sec­onds later, smoke spewed from the trunk. The gun­man then pulled items out of both his car and Steven­son’s cruiser.

A fire en­gulfed both cars but by then, the gun­man had climbed into Webber’s SUV, and left.

Oth­ers killed by Wort­man in­cluded a teacher, nurses, prison guards, a fel­low den­tur­ist, busi­ness own­ers, a fam­ily in­clud­ing a 17-yearold daugh­ter, neigh­bours and oth­ers. He knew some of his vic­tims and oth­ers were seem­ingly ran­dom, po­lice said.

When Wort­man was fi­nally shot and killed by po­lice, as he stopped for gas in En­field, N.S., he had five guns within easy reach, the doc­u­ment re­veals. The de­tails of Wort­man’s death are redacted from the doc­u­ment.

Po­lice found five guns and am­mu­ni­tion in the SUV he had stolen from Webber.

Two semi-au­to­matic ri­fles were ready to fire, one with a bul­let in the chamber, the doc­u­ment says.

There were two hand­guns, also with a round in their cham­bers, and spent shell cas­ings scat­tered around the SUV. One pis­tol’s ham­mer was cocked and its safety switch off, mean­ing it was ready to fire with just a trig­ger pull.

The last gun po­lice found in the SUV was Steven­son’s Smith & Wes­son 9-mm ser­vice pis­tol.

Boxes of am­mu­ni­tion and a metal am­mu­ni­tion can were on the front seat. Wort­man has never had a firearms li­cence, the doc­u­ment says.

The me­dia’s court chal­lenge to ac­cess the doc­u­ments on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is to en­sure trans­parency and pub­lic scru­tiny amid grow­ing calls for a pub­lic in­quiry.

Only one doc­u­ment has so far been re­leased.



A fire-de­stroyed prop­erty reg­is­tered to Gabriel Wort­man on Por­tapique Beach Road is seen in Por­tapique, N.S. on May 8. Wort­man is the gun­man be­hind last month’s mass shoot­ing in Nova Sco­tia.

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