The widower of one of the 22 people killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting has launched a class-action lawsuit against the gunman’s estate.
Nicholas Beaton, the husband of Kristen Beaton and father to their young son and their unborn second child, filed the papers in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on Tuesday.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for “the spouses, children and/or parents” of the victims of Gabriel Wortman, who police have identified as the man who went on a killing spree through several Nova Scotia towns starting on the night of April 18, before he was killed by RCMP on April 19.
The action alleges that Wortman’s estate is liable to the families of the victims and those who were injured in the shootings, along with injuries and damage caused by multiple house fires police say the gunman started along the way.
It also seeks an order that would freeze the estate’s assets until a judge determines what damages are owed, if any.
“I know this lawsuit won’t bring back any of those senselessly murdered,” Beaton said in a statement issued by his lawyer Thursday. “However, there must be some accountability for this tragedy.”
Beaton’s lawyer, Robert Pineo, said he hopes “some form of restitution” can be secured for the victims’ families, and urged them to sign on to the class-action.
However, the lawsuit’s proposed class for the victims explicitly excludes Wortman’s girlfriend, who was also victimized during his spree.
RCMP have confirmed the shootings began after Wortman assaulted and bound his partner following a party the couple attended the night of April 18. At some point that same night, she escaped and hid in the woods, and Wortman returned to the party and killed multiple people.
The lawsuit relies on the detailed timeline provided by RCMP last week of what took place between April 18 and 19 across Portapique, Truro, Milford, and Enfield. The timeline includes Wortman’s assault of his girlfriend.
Kristen Beaton is believed to have been killed in her car in Debert on April 19. According to the lawsuit, she was on her way to work at the Victorian Order of Nurses when Wortman, disguised as an RCMP officer while driving a mock police cruiser, stopped her vehicle and shot her. She was pregnant at the time of her death.
One day earlier, the nurse joined a call for Nova Scotia’s front-line workers to share selfies of their new reality during the coronavirus pandemic, calling for more supplies of personal protective equipment.
Nova Scotia’s government and the provincial RCMP have been under pressure to open an inquiry into how the search for Wortman was handled.
No emergency alert was issued while the gunman was at large, although RCMP did issue multiple warnings and photos of both Wortman and the mock police cruiser on Twitter, which were provided by his girlfriend after she emerged from the woods.
The RCMP, who lost Const. Heidi Stevenson during the shootings, is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
A judge has not approved the class-action, and the lawsuit’s claims have not yet been proven in court.
-With files from Alexander Quon, Rachael D’Amore and the Canadian Press