Family of Heather O’Brien, VON nurse killed in Nova Scotia shooting, calls for public inquiry

Click to play video: 'Document show police tipped off that Gabriel Wortman wanted to ‘kill a cop’' Document show police tipped off that Gabriel Wortman wanted to ‘kill a cop’
WATCH: A nine-year-old document shows police were tipped off about the Nova Scotia gunman's potential for violence, but RCMP don’t know if their members ever acted on that tip – May 29, 2020

The family of a woman who died in the Nova Scotia shooting in April says they are unable to heal properly and are calling for a public inquiry to be held into the incident.

“The amount of information being kept from us is deplorable,” wrote Darcy Dobson, one of the six children of Andrew and Heather O’Brien, in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“The woman who was the centre of our world was taken from us in a manner that no one could ever even imagine.”

Heather was a member of the Victorian Order of Nurses and was among the 22 people killed in April during one of Canada’s worst mass shootings.

Details on the rampage and testimony from those who knew the gunman were released last month in heavily redacted court documents submitted by the RCMP, and their investigation is ongoing.

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READ MORE: Police had bulletin warning of Nova Scotia shooter’s intention to ‘kill a cop’ in 2011

Dobson said she was writing on behalf of her family and community.

“Heather O’Brien was a strong woman; she raised her children right! She taught us to be brave and to stand up for what we believe in,” wrote Dobson.

“This is why we are standing up. We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve.”

Dobson says that her family understands there is an active investigation into the incident but stresses that the families of those who died should have a right to know what happened.

She says that transparency would allow the public to feel safe in their communities.

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Getting more answers about N.S. shooting still unsure: police officials – May 28, 2020

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has resisted calls for a public inquiry, saying the province is waiting to see what federal authorities ultimately decide.

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McNeil said provincial Attorney General Mark Furey is “working with his partners at the federal level.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not committed to the federal government holding a public inquiry.

There’s no indication of when a decision may be reached.

READ MORE: N.S. mass shooting ‘completely senseless,’ Mounties said. Experts disagree

But Dobson and her family, who’ve now endured more than 40 days without their mother, want answers.

“Mistakes were made at the provincial and the federal level and we need answers, we need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we’ve been forced into,” she wrote.

Dobson said other families may soon be joining hers in publishing requests for an inquiry to be called.

In recent weeks questions have been raised about why the RCMP didn’t issue a search warrant for the gunman’s home in Portapique, after reports of domestic abuse of his spouse and possession of illegal firearms seven years ago.

Last month, Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of Gabriel Wortman – who was shot and killed by police on April 19 – said she reported an account of a 2013 incident of domestic violence by Wortman against his common-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro.

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Unsealed court document reveals N.S. shooting investigation techniques – May 25, 2020

She said she reported witnesses telling her that Wortman had strangled and beaten his common-law partner, and she said she told police there were guns in the house.

Police have said Wortman’s rampage began late on the night of April 18 with the domestic assault of the same woman, who managed to escape and hide in the woods after the gunman assaulted her at their residence in Portapique.

The RCMP said in an email Friday it is still looking for the police record of the 2013 incident and declined further comment.

READ MORE: She witnessed the N.S. mass shooter’s violence. She’s still struggling to be heard

Last week saw more revelations the Mounties had received detailed warnings about Wortman.

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A newly released police bulletin revealed that in May 2011, a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had “stated he wants to kill a cop.”

The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some “mental issues” that left him feeling stressed and “a little squirrelly.”

Thirty-three Dalhousie law professors have called for an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act – which allows for broad terms of reference – arguing the province is responsible for the administration of justice.

Other legal experts have said another option is for a joint federal-provincial inquiry, as there are overlapping issues of provincial and federal jurisdiction.

With files from The Canadian Press 

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