New de­tails emerge in N.S. shoot­ings

Au­dio record­ings of first re­spon­ders re­veal fran­tic bid to help vic­tims

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada & World - MICHAEL MACDON­ALD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

HAL­I­FAX—New de­tails are emerg­ing about the chaos that en­sued as po­lice in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia tried to cap­ture a killer dis­guised as an RCMP of­fi­cer — and first re­spon­ders tried to help a rapidly grow­ing list of vic­tims.

The search for the sus­pect stretched from late Satur­day night to Sun­day morn­ing, when the death toll rose to 22 as the gun­man evaded po­lice by driv­ing in a car iden­ti­cal to an RCMP cruiser.

Au­dio record­ings of first re­spon­ders com­mu­ni­cat­ing on two-way ra­dios pro­vide a glimpse of their fran­tic at­tempts to help the first vic­tims found Satur­day at 10:40 p.m. amid burn­ing homes in the vil­lage of Por­tapique, N.S.

On one of the record­ings, stored on the Broad­cas­tify web­site, first re­spon­ders dis­patched to the scene along High­way 2 tell the dis­patcher they can see some­thing burn­ing in the dis­tance.

“I’m see­ing huge flames and smoke from where we are,” one says, minutes be­fore the dis­patcher says po­lice have dis­cov­ered a gun­shot vic­tim on Por­tapique Beach Road.

Within the next 20 minutes, the ex­tent of the car­nage comes into sharp fo­cus as po­lice call for more am­bu­lances — twice.

“There pos­si­bly could be other vic­tims down by the scene, but po­lice are slowly bring­ing peo­ple out,” the para­medic says in a steady, even tone that speaks of his train­ing.

Then, the pace of his speech quick­ens. “There’s a per­son down there with a gun,” he says.

“They’re still look­ing for him. The pa­tient we have got shot by him. He was just down there ob­serv­ing the fire, check­ing out the fire. So there could be other pa­tients around the fire that could be gone al­ready, but we’re not sure.” He in­di­cates there is con­fu­sion in the dark­ness as po­lice search for the killer. “It’s very vague what’s go­ing on down there, but there is for sure mul­ti­ple pa­tients down there,” he says.

By 11:20 p.m., the first re­spon­ders are still un­sure of what is go­ing on. “Do we know if they’ve caught the as­sailant?” one asks over the ra­dio.

The dis­patcher re­sponds: “No, not for sure ... They’re bring­ing vic­tims out to that in­ter­sec­tion from the ac­tual scene. But no, they don’t know if they’ve caught him. I don’t know.”

It’s un­clear ex­actly how many peo­ple were killed along Por­tapique Beach Road, which in­cludes many sea­sonal and per­ma­nent homes along the pic­turesque north shore of Cobe­quid Bay.

Po­lice con­firmed Wed­nes­day that the sus­pect man­aged to es­cape from a perime­ter they had set up around the ru­ral area, but they didn’t re­al­ize he was gone un­til some time be­tween 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sun­day when a wit­ness re­vealed de­tails about the fake po­lice car.

Over a 12-hour pe­riod, 51-yearold Gabriel Wort­man of Hal­i­fax killed 22 peo­ple — some he knew, oth­ers he met ran­domly as he fled.

Mean­while, Nova Sco­tia’s po­lice watch­dog is in­ves­ti­gat­ing why two RCMP of­fi­cers started shoot­ing at a fire hall on Sun­day morn­ing even though the sus­pect is not be­lieved to have been in the vicin­ity.

Pat Cur­ran, in­terim di­rec­tor of the Se­ri­ous In­ci­dent Re­sponse Team, said the of­fi­cers fired their weapons around 10:30 a.m. at the Onslow-Bel­mont Fire Hall, near Truro.

The fire hall is about a halfhour drive from Por­tapique.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A man pays his re­spects at a road­side memo­rial for the vic­tims of Canada’s worst mass shoot­ing in Por­tapique, N.S., on Thurs­day.

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