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Nova Scotia gunman was a ‘psychopath’ and ‘paranoid’ about COVID-19 pandemic: court doc

Nova Scotia gunman was a ‘psychopath’ about COVID-19 pandemic: court doc
WATCH: On the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, which left 22 people dead, we’re learning more about the man responsible. As Elizabeth McSheffrey reports, witnesses described him to police as disturbed and paranoid. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports.

The Nova Scotia gunman who killed 22 people in a series of shootings last month was a “psychopath” and “paranoid” about the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to newly released court documents.

The details about the gunman were part of an “Information to Obtain (ITO)” document released by a Nova Scotia judge on Tuesday. Police are required to file ITOs when seeking legal authorization to conduct a search of someone’s property.

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The 40-page document is for two properties the gunman owned, 136 Orchard Beach Dr. and 200 Portapique Beach Rd., and contains statements from witnesses given to RCMP and Halifax Regional Police on April 19.

One witness, who apparently worked with Gabriel Wortman, told police the gunman “had been disturbed and that he was severely abused as a young boy.” The allegations contained in the ITO have not been proven in court.

“Wortman was very smart, cheated, was a psychopath and abused,” the police document said.

The witness told police that the gunman had a “mental break down” and spoke about the deed for a property in Portapique, a community of about 100 people 40 kilometres west of Truro.

The gunman was also described as “paranoid” about the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing lockdowns in response to the virus, according to the same witness.

“There were guns at the warehouse and the dental office,” the document said. “[He] talked about all types of guns, assault rifles, hand guns but (redacted) did not know where or how he got them.”

Other witnesses told police the gunman was a “sociopath” and “abusive” and disliked police. The ITO makes several references to the “warehouse” — a garage at the Orchard Beach Drive property.

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“Wortman recently bought $800 worth of gasoline,” the document said. “Wortman showed (redacted) a gun …. and described it as being like a machine gun.

“This gun was kept by the fire place in the warehouse.”

Police remain tight-lipped on details about the N.S. shooter
Police remain tight-lipped on details about the N.S. shooter

READ MORE: A detailed timeline of how the rampage unfolded

Several witness statements described the gunman’s collection of firearms, decommissioned police cars and police uniforms.

“Wortman would dress up as a police officer and would role play,” the document said, noting the gunman had a whole uniform, including a hat, jacket and a vest.

On the evening of April 18, RCMP said the gunman assaulted his common-law spouse before launching into a terrifying 13-hour rampage across rural Nova Scotia, dressed in an authentic RCMP uniform and driving a replica of an RCMP cruiser.

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When police arrived on the evening of April 18 in Portapique, they encountered a grisly scene with several homes on fire and the bodies of occupants laying on the ground.

A fire-destroyed property registered to the gunman at 200 Portapique Beach Rd. is seen in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, May 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
A fire-destroyed property registered to the gunman at 200 Portapique Beach Rd. is seen in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, May 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The rampage ended at a gas station in Enfield, about 92 kilometres south of Portapique, when the gunman was fatally shot by police the morning of April 19.

Several media outlets, including Global News, have been fighting for the release of the ITOs that were filed in the wake of the shootings.

In a hearing in Truro provincial court Tuesday morning, Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie authorized the release of one of the ITOs, which lays out evidence investigators gathered to support a warrant.

Domestic violence

The ITOs include a statement taken from the gunman’s common-law spouse, who was assaulted the night of April 18 but escaped and hid in the woods overnight. She emerged in the early morning hours of April 19 and told police the gunman was heavily armed and driving a replica RCMP cruiser.

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“They were just at the warehouse having drinks. They weren’t married but had (FaceTimed) friends,” the document said.

Sections of the statement are heavily redacted but note that at some point the gunman “poured gasoline all inside the cottage (redacted) to the warehouse so Gabriel could burn that.”

READ MORE: Neighbour reported mass shooter’s domestic violence, weapons to police

After hiding out in the woods overnight, she told police that Wortman had a number of guns in the front passenger seat of the replica police car, including some “like the military people have.”

She said the attacker had also smashed her cellphone prior to the attack.

She said the gunman had a relationship with someone in the RCMP and had one of his uniforms, though it didn’t fit.

“He had a fluorescent yellow jacket and he would put it in the front seat to make it look like he was a police officer,” according to the document

She said Wortman “wasn’t a police officer wannabe and didn’t like police officers and thought he was better than them,” the document said.

The ITOs also contain a text message from the gunman sent to an acquaintance on April 14 and 15 about a potential business deal. The gunman referred to something as a “real s–t show” and said he was residing in Portapique as a “prelude” to retirement and studying “the news on U-Tube.”

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Police warned about replica cruiser

The unsealed document also revealed that police knew the gunman was driving a replica RCMP cruiser nearly 12 hours before they alerted the public on social media. According to the document, on the night of April 18, a neighbour had driven to the scene after spotting several fires and told police he was shot at by a man driving a vehicle he thought was a police car.

The neighbour said the “police vehicle” pulled up beside him and shot through the window, wounding him. He identified the shooter as Wortman.

However, police didn’t alert the public the killer was driving a nearly identical RCMP vehicle until 10:17 a.m. the next morning and wearing what appeared to be an RCMP uniform.

The document reveals one gun was seen in the backseat of the vehicle the gunman was driving when he reached the gas station where he was killed by police. A total of five guns, along with ammunition, including spent casings, were found scattered in the Mazda.

A semi-automatic rifle was found with a shoulder strap, its selector switch set to “fire” mode. Another semi-automatic rifle was found with a bullet in the chamber.

READ MORE: Psychological autopsy to be conducted on gunman of Nova Scotia mass shooting — RCMP

One handgun had a round in the chamber and the safety switch off. Police also found the Smith & Wesson nine-millimetre service weapon of Const. Heidi Stevenson, the officer who the gunman killed before stealing her handgun and ammunition earlier that day.

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Investigators had previously said that killer had two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles with him, which have been recovered by police. RCMP confirmed that one of the rifles could be described as a military-style rifle.

RCMP have said three guns were obtained in the United States, and the RCMP is working with the Canada Border Services Agency to probe how they arrived in Canada. The other gun was traced to an origin within Canada, but the calibre of the weapons has not been released.

The ITOs also included a statement from employees at a business believed to be the source of the vinyl used to make the decals for the mock RCMP cruiser.

“(Redacted) heard on the news about (the gunman) and recognized him as a customer who had purchased supplies from them,” the document said. “Wortman told (redacted) that he had a police cruiser that he bought at auction and he wanted to do it up like a police car.”

The employee told police he warned the gunman about “getting in trouble” for driving the cruiser with decals, and the gunman acknowledged he knew it would be illegal.

The employee said several sheets of red, blue and green reflective material were purchased using an account registered under the name of the gunman’s business, Atlantic Denture Clinic.

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The RCMP have previously said they have identified the source of the RCMP decals and that they were created at a business without the permission of the business owner. Both the owner and the individual who made the decals are co-operating with police.

Gunman described getting rid of bodies

Witnesses also told police that the gunman had several police vehicles and that he was “a millionaire.”

One witness, who met the gunman in 2011, described him as being “paranoid and controlling.”

“Wortman would speak about getting rid of bodies, burning and chemicals,” the document said.

“He would tell (redacted) different ways to get rid of a body and had lime and muriatic acid on the property,” the document said. “The barrels for these would be underneath the deck.”

READ MORE: Here’s what we know about the victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting

When asked by police if the gunman had any “booby traps” at his home following the shootings, a witness advised police to turn off the power to his properties in Portapique as they “wouldn’t put it past (Wortman) after what unfolded today.”

In an update to the ongoing investigation last week, RCMP said that ground-penetrating radar was used to search under the ground at the killer’s property in Portapique, but nothing of relevance was found.

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Investigators have also spoken to 500 witnesses and are continuing to conduct interviews, according to the RCMP, adding that searches of 17 crime scenes from the rampage have now ended.

Police have said they want to speak with anyone who “had a conflict with the gunman, whether professional or personal, at any time” and are asking anyone to call an RCMP tip line at 1-833-570-0121.