Newly-released provincial court documents provide chilling insight into the mindset of the Nova Scotia shooter from those close to him, portraying the gunman as a violent career criminal who never got caught until he snapped due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The RCMP search warrant application released Monday appear to contain new details from Gabriel Wortman’s common-law spouse about the day of the shooting and his mindsight leading up to the killings. While she is not named, her account is similar to previous police accounts.
The common-law spouse told police that during the day of April 18 she and the gunman drove to several locations, including towns and buildings the gunman would visit during the subsequent shooting spree. The witness also said that, throughout this drive, the gunman talked about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The gunman would later spend the night of April 18 in Debert, one of the towns he and his common-law spouse reportedly visited on April 18, before continuing on his rampage in the early hours of April 19.
She told police that in the days before the rampage he was “very caught up about COVID-19 and was talking about death and said that he knew he was going to die.” She described how he hoarded large quantities of gas and wanted to stockpile food. She also said the gunman feared that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would put in place a plan to away the money of citizens.
“(Redacted) said it was like Gabriel Wortman was preparing for the end of the world and he even wanted to purchase a large quantity of rice and other food items,” the documents said.
On the night of April 18, she described how he had “snapped” and poured gasoline over vehicles and around the cottage they shared in Portapique, N.S. before launching into his rampage that would kill 22 people. He also loaded the front seat of a replica RCMP cruiser with guns and ammunition.
She recalled that he once told her he believed it would be easy to murder police officers, and on the night of the rampage he had “snapped” as he went from making plans and chatting with her to burning his property in Portapique, N.S.
“(Redacted) said the floor was very wet from the gas being poured on it and Wortman told her to be careful,” the documents said. The gunman’s common-law spouse has previously described how she was assaulted and bound before managing to escape in the woods where she hid overnight.
In the newly-released documents, she described how she left what she believed was a puffy jacket she was wearing on the ground in the woods as a clue for police to find her.
While hiding in the woods, she could see flames erupt over Portapique and heard the sounds of screams and gunshots.
At one point she heard a voice on a speaker say “’this is the police,’ but was scared that it was the gunman,” the documents said. She crawled out of the woods in the early hours of April 19 and ran to a neighbour’s house where she called police.
Gunman was a ‘career criminal’
A consortium of media organizations — including Global News — have been fighting for months to have the RCMP search warrant applications released and the redactions lifted.
The newly-released documents are still heavily redacted, but include new allegations from the gunman’s cousin, a retired RCMP officer, who told police in an interview after the shooting that the gunman was “almost a career criminal and doing a lot of stuff but never got caught.”
The gunman allegedly paid his way through university by “smuggling tobacco and alcohol” into Canada from the United States, the cousin reportedly said.
The cousin also reportedly told police that as an RCMP officer he knew he needed to “get his distance” from the gunman and that he believed the gunman was capable of murder.
“(Redacted) wasn’t surprised and knew (the gunman) was capable of killing someone, maybe his parents or (redacted), but he never thought (the gunman) would go on a rampage,” the court documents said.
The cousin also told police about a violent incident that happened during a 2016 family vacation in the Dominican Republic where the gunman “beat up” his father, smashing his head against a pool, the court documents said.
Another incident between the gunman and his parents over a property dispute led to police being called to the parents’ home, the cousin reportedly said, but nothing ever came of this incident.
“(The gunman) was paranoid and put his houses in his parent’s name and he was worried about the CRA coming for him. (The gunman’s) father wouldn’t take his name off the property and that is what started the argument.,” the court documents said.
During their last conversation over the phone, the gunman reportedly told his cousin about how easy it would be to commit credit card fraud. The cousin also said the gunman was “always thinking of ways to beat the system and to screw Revenue Canada.”
“(The gunman) was a scammer and an opportunist,” the cousin reportedly told police.
The cousin also told police that he gave the gunman his iconic Red Serge RCMP uniform and this uniform was on display at the gunman’s home in Portapique before it was burned down.
He also reported that the gunman would have had access to other RCMP uniforms that were hanging in his closet during a visit the gunman made to his home in 2011 or 2012.
Wortman, 51, killed 22 people, including RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, on April 18-19 before he was shot and killed by police at a gas station in Enfield, N.S.