Nearly an hour before he was killed in a confrontation with RCMP officers, the suspect in a series of shootings in Nova Scotia that left at least 22 people dead appeared to stop his mock RCMP vehicle in a parking lot, calmly got out to change his clothes, then continued driving up the road.
That’s what appears to be shown in surveillance video obtained by Global News, and originally posted to Facebook on Wednesday — only to be taken down hours later.
The person who posted the video said it was taken from a surveillance camera outside their father’s business in Millbrook First Nation, just eight kilometres north of Brookfield.
“I am so disgusted and disturbed at how calm this man is,” the original Facebook post read.
“My heart is with you, Nova Scotia.”
In the video, a vehicle that looks extremely similar to a RCMP cruiser pulls off the road and rolls to a stop.
A man matching the description of 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who RCMP have identified as the suspected shooter, climbs out of the vehicle wearing what appears to be a RCMP jacket with reflective yellow markings.
When he takes the jacket off, he’s wearing a light grey shirt with what looks like a patch on his shoulder — similar to RCMP officer uniform shirts.
The man then puts the jacket into the vehicle and brings out a reflective yellow safety vest, which he puts on. He then climbs back into the vehicle and drives off in the same direction.
At no point does the man appear to be panicked or in a hurry. Instead, he remains calm and focused on fastening his vest before driving away.
A timestamp on the video, which lasts less than a minute, suggests the vehicle pulled off the road at 10:54 a.m. on April 19. It continued on a minute later.
By that time, police had already named Wortman as the suspected shooter, and had issued photos of both Wortman and the mock RCMP vehicle he was allegedly driving.
He had also allegedly shot and killed at least 22 people — including a teacher, a nurse and a 17-year-old — in several small towns, including Portapique, Truro and Milford. He’s also alleged to have set several fires, including at homes in those towns.
The timestamp appears to fit with RCMP’s timeline of how the shootings and the police pursuit unfolded.
Shortly after the video was allegedly taken, at 11:04 local time, police tweeted that the suspect had been seen travelling southbound on Highway 102 from the Brookfield area.
Just over half an hour later, RCMP said Wortman had been taken into custody after a confrontation at a gas station in Enfield. A short time after that, police confirmed he had died.
RCMP have not commented on the video, including if it indeed shows the shooter or if it forms part of their investigation into the shootings, despite multiple requests from Global News.
The person who originally shared the video would not comment.
However, Scott Blakeney, a vehicle detailer who viewed the video along with Global News, said it contains several clues that point to Wortman being the man in the video.
The detailer said no licence plate can be seen on the rear of the vehicle, strongly suggesting it is not a legitimate RCMP cruiser. They added the man’s height matches the shooter’s as described by police, and that it appears there’s something tucked into the man’s pants, which may be a firearm.
Blakeney spruced up some of Wortman’s motorbikes five years go, which were stored in the garage behind the suspect’s denturist clinic in Dartmouth. The room that picture was taken in appears to match the background in the photo of the mocked-up RCMP cruiser that police tweeted out during their hunt for Wortman Sunday.
The shooter’s impersonation of a police officer, which is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, allowed him to “circulate around the province, steps ahead of our investigators,” said RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather during a Monday afternoon press conference.
“We can say that his ability to move around the province undetected was surely greatly benefited by the fact that he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car,” Leather said.
RCMP have said some details of the investigation, including Wortman’s death, will not be revealed until Nova Scotia’s independent police watchdog, the Serious Incident Response Team, concludes its own probe into the incident.
— With files from Brian Hill, Ross Lord and the Canadian Press