What we know about the Nova Scotia rampage suspect
TORONTO -- Questions about a motive remain as RCMP piece together evidence from a deadly rampage in Nova Scotia over the weekend, which left at least 22 people plus the attacker dead.
Investigators are now tasked with unravelling the attacker’s violent path across the province, warning Monday that the death toll may rise as the investigation continues.
The prolonged attack, which left crime scenes scattered across the province, included victims who were targeted by the attacker and others who did not know him at all, police said in a statement Tuesday.
According to RCMP, at one point during the incident the attacker was driving what appeared to be an RCMP vehicle and wearing an RCMP uniform -- though he was not an RCMP officer. The 51-year-old attacker is believed to be responsible for all of the deaths.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE SUSPECT
Identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, the attacker was registered as a denturist in Dartmouth, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. A photo issued by the RCMP matches video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.
Court documents obtained by CTV News reveal that Wortman was convicted of assault in 2002 and later received a conditional discharge. A judge ordered him to undergo counselling for anger management and banned him from possessing firearms, explosives and any prohibited weapon for nine months. He was also ordered to pay a fine.
A yearbook photo from Riverview High School in New Brunswick notes that he aspired to be an RCMP officer.
Todd Battis, Atlantic Bureau Chief for CTV News, attended high school with the attacker and confirmed his yearbook aspirations.
Those who knew Wortman told CTV News that he collected cars and motorcycles. He reportedly purchased two old police cruisers that were parked behind the denture clinic where he worked.
“It’s two Mountie cars,” neighbour Bill McCormack told CTV News Atlantic. “I never asked him about it.”
RCMP said Monday that a mock police car was found at the scene where an RCMP officer was killed. The car was set on fire.
Officials also noted that Wortman was wearing an RCMP uniform during a portion of the attack. While the origin of the uniform is unknown, police say they have reason to believe it was authentic or a “very good” reproduction.
In the rural town of Portapique, where the rampage began, residents who knew the attacker described him as polite and house-proud, often spending time at a seasonal home overlooking Cobequid Bay.
Tammy Oliver-McCurdie, a sister of one of the victims, told CTV News Monday her family were neighbours of Wortman. She says, although they had disagreements in the past, her sister mentioned nothing that would have prompted such an attack.
Justin Zahl, whose parents’ home in Portapique was burned to the ground in the attack, also knew Wortman and said there was “something off” about him.
“Me and my brother knew him and we met him and everything,” he said. “We always joked, but we always knew there was something off around the man.”
Zahl said he hasn’t heard from his parents since Saturday evening, and officers told him their home had been burned and could have bodies inside.
The RCMP said they will not provide further details on the relationships between the attacker and the victims he personally knew.