April 24 (UPI) — Last weekend’s mass shooting that killed 22 people in Nova Scotia, Canada, started when the gunman attacked his girlfriend, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Friday.
The agency released a timeline of Saturday and Sunday’s attack, which started in the town of Portapique and ended in Enfield with the gunman’s death 12 hours later.
RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell said the shooter, Gabriel Wortman, assaulted his longtime girlfriend.
“The victim managed to escape from the gunman and she hid overnight in the woods,” Campbell said during a news conference.
He said the woman eventually came out of the woods and provided police with key details about the gunman during his rampage.
The RCMP said that after leaving his girlfriend, Wortman traveled to another residence in Portapique, where police received a call about a shooting. Upon arriving at the second location, police found several bodies and multiple structures on fire.
Police also encountered a man in the area who said the gunman shot him while the two drove past each other on a road near the second location. The victim told police the gunman drove what appeared to be a police cruiser.
In all, police said Wortman killed 13 people and injured two others in Portapique, mostly along two roads near the beach. Police identified the dead in this area as Lisa McCully, Greg Blair, Jamie Blair, Jolene Oliver, Emily Tuck, Aaron Tuck, Joanne Thomas, John Zahl, Dawn Gulenchyn, Frank Gulenchyn, Peter Bond, Joy Bond and Corrie Ellison.
On Sunday morning, Campbell said Wortman traveled to the towns of Wentworth, Desert, Shubenacadie and Enfield, killing another nine people. He also set more structures on fire while wearing what appeared to be a police uniform and driving an old police vehicle.
In Wentworth, police said Wortman killed two men and a woman — Tom Bagley, Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins — at a residence he also set on fire. The gunman knew at least two of those victims.
Traveling on Highway 4, he shot and killed Lillian Hyslop as she was walking.
In Debert, the RCMP said Wortman pulled over one vehicle, fatally shooting the driver and another driver who passed by. Police identified the victims as Kristen Beaton and Heather O’Brien.
Campbell said that later Sunday morning, RCMP Constable Chad Morrison arranged to meet up with Constable Heidi Stevenson during their shifts. Wortman pulled up near Morrison and shot and injured the constable, who thought the gunman was Stevenson.
Stevenson was then killed after engaging Wortman, who set fire to his and Stevenson’s cruisers. The gunman shot and killed a passerby who stopped to help, Joey Webber, and stole his vehicle, taking it to the home of another acquaintance, Gina Goulet. He shot and killed her, before traveling to Enfield.
In Enfield, Wortman stopped at a gas station to fuel Goulet’s vehicle, where an officer spotted, engaged and killed the gunman.
Campbell said Wortman’s use of a law enforcement vehicle and uniform complicated their search for him.
“I’ve been a police officer for almost 30 years now and I can’t imagine any more horrific set of circumstances than when you are trying to search for someone who looks like you,” he said.
“The dangers that that causes, the complications that that causes. That obviously was an advantage that the suspect had on police, had on the public and had on every person who encountered through the course of his rampage.”
Campbell said Wortman’s girlfriend was still recovering from serious injuries.