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Nova Scotia RCMP have released a string of photos detailing the movements of the mass shooter who killed 22 people in five rural communities earlier this month.
Last week, Nova Scotia RCMP provided a detailed account of how the 13-hour shooting transpired on April 18 and 19, beginning in Portapique, N.S., and ending roughly 100 kilometres away outside a gas station in Enfield, N.S., when the shooter was killed.
“Though the gunman will never stand trial, we’ll still have a duty to complete this investigation by the same standards that we would have if he was standing trial,” said Supt. Darren Campbell at a press briefing Tuesday.
The homicides occurred in the communities of Portapique, Wentworth, Debert, Millbrook and Shubenacadie.
During the shooting, the gunman was travelling in a replica police vehicle and wearing an authentic police uniform. It was revealed Friday that the gunman set fire to other police-packaged Ford vehicles.
Police say priority areas for their investigation are to determine how the gunman obtained access to the equipment that he used and establish the gunman’s movements.
They’re also investigating whether the gunman had assistance.
“We’ve been focusing on witness interviews, video canvassing and judicial authorizations that allow us to obtain search warrants and records,” Campbell said.
“This work has enabled us to gain a much better picture.”
Campbell says the RCMP has identified over 435 witnesses and interviewed more than half of those.
“There are many more interviews to come and we expect the witness list to grow.”
Suspect acquired police vehicles though auctions
During Tuesday’s briefing, Campbell said the gunman was “a collector of many things, including police memorabilia” and was in possession of multiple pieces of police uniforms from a variety of agencies.
“Many witnesses interviewed have spoken of the gunman’s interest in the RCMP, which dates back some time,” Campbell said.
Campbell confirmed that during the shooting, the gunman wore a police shirt and pants with a yellow stripe. He also confirmed the gunman changed clothing while travelling through the communities.
Police have yet to confirm where or how he obtained the uniform.
“This is an important aspect of our investigation and this will take some time,” Campbell said.
Campbell confirmed Friday that the gunman was in possession of at least four mock-up police vehicles. On Tuesday, Campbell said that was something the gunman didn’t hide.
“Investigators have determined that all four police cars were former police models and the gunman had acquired them though auctions within the past few years,” Campbell said.
“With regard to the replicated police vehicle … we believe that we obtained that vehicle in the fall of 2019.”
Police say they are still investigating where the gunman obtained the light bar and the decals.
Gunman stayed the night in Debert
The RCMP provided another detailed account of the gunman’s movements the night and morning of the shooting, including security footage to accompany the shooter’s movements.
Police received the first 911 call just after 10 p.m. and officers arrived in the Portapique area at 10:26 p.m. A perimeter was established but the suspect wasn’t located.
Campbell says a witness reported seeing a vehicle leaving through a field at 10:35 p.m. and police have determined he arrived in Debert at 11:12 p.m.
“We do know that he spent the evening there,” he said. “We’ve searched that area thoroughly, but we are making a plea to anyone in that area if they had seen anything suspicious to please contact police.”
Police have obtained video that shows the suspect leaving the area at 5:43 a.m., travelling north on Highway 4 to Wentworth.
That distance was approximately 44 kilometres.
“Video evidence obtained shows that the mock police vehicle was driving by residences very close to the location where the gunman had actually killed two males and a female. That happened at 6:29 in the morning,” Campbell said.
Campbell says video shows the gunman leaving the area at 9:23 a.m.
The gunman then travelled south along Highway 4, Campbell said, where he killed a woman in the area of Highway 4 and Highway 224 at around 9:48 a.m.
Campbell says he continued through that area, where he stopped at a residence and knocked on the door. The occupants did not answer and the gunman left, Campbell said.
Security footage then shows the mock police cruiser in the Debert area at 9:57 a.m., shortly before the shooter killed two women in the community.
“It was at that point at 10:08 when we received additional calls that the gunman was involved in another incident, right near the area … where the gunman had spent the evening.”
Cambell says the gunman left Debert towards Truro, passing through Onslow.
“We have him on video at 10:16, 17 and 20 crossing through the Truro area,” Campbell said. “It is our belief that he did not stop in Truro as he made his way through the city.”
From Truro, Campbell says the gunman travelled south on Highway 2 for approximately seven kilometres.
Police confirm security footage in Millbrook was shooter
Widely shared security footage showing a police cruiser making a brief stop in Millbrook First Nation has been confirmed by police as the shooter.
The gunman exits the vehicle, takes off his jacket, puts on a yellow reflective vest, then gets back into the vehicle and drives away.
Campbell confirmed that occurred at 10:25 a.m.
“We’ve been able to establish that the gunman travelled further south on Highway 2,” Campbell said. “We’ve obtained video of him travelling down Highway 2 south at 10:28 for a distance of about six and a half kilometres.”
“Our next photo shows him at 10:32 passing a gas station in the Brookfield area.”
From there, Campbell says the gunman travelled 22 kilometres to the Shubanacadie area, where he shot and wounded Const. Chad Morrison at around 10:59 a.m.
“Shortly after that, within a few minutes, is when Const. Heidi Stevenson engaged the gunman in that immediate area,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Friday that the gunman then killed a passerby who stopped at the scene of the crash and took their vehicle.
He travelled about two kilometres south along Highway 224 and stopped at a residence of a person he knew, killed her and stole her vehicle, Campbell said.
“He discarded his police clothing, some of which was found outside the residence, some was found inside the vehicle,” Campbell said. “We also know he had transferred his firearms from the silver SUV to a Mazda vehicle that belonged to his last victim.”
Campbell says the last video police have of the suspect shows him exiting the highway at 11:23 a.m. and travelling towards the Irving Big Stop.
Campbell says the investigation has progressed “quite significantly” since the last press conference.
“Five scenes are still being held,” Campbell said. “One of which the Hunter Road area and the remainder in the Portapique area.”
Traffic in the Portapique area is still being restricted and Campbell says scenes will be held as long as investigators need them.
Despite establishing a timeline of the gunman’s movements, Campbell says police still have much more work to do.
“We’re continuing to ask anyone with information to please call the RCMP tip line at 1-833-570-0121.”
— With files from Global News’ Andrew Russell