The gunman who killed 22 people in rural Nova Scotia had previously attended gun shows in the United States and was concerned with arming himself as the coronavirus began to surge in Canada, according to newly released court documents.
Emails from the gunman sent on March 19, 2020 – one month before the shootings – sent to an unnamed individual talked about how “the virus was huge and people have not dealt with something as big as it was,” according to an RCMP application for a general warrant, which was released Monday.
“(The gunman) said that he wasn’t optimistic and once the money runs out people will become desperate and people will need guns,” the documents said.
“Thank God we are well-armed,” the gunman is quoted as saying.
Another witness, a friend of Aaron Tuck, who was killed in the shootings, told the RCMP that the gunman had a propensity for violence.
“(Tuck) had told (redacted) about a few altercations involving Gabriel Wortman when he was drinking and said that Gabriel would terrorize people,” the document said.
The new details are contained in a general warrant the RCMP obtained as part of its investigation into the killings and was released Monday following a court order from a provincial judge.
Several media organizations, including Global News, have been fighting for months to obtain the evidence police used to obtain search warrants related to the April 18 and 19 mass shootings.
The documents provide further insight into the killer’s state of mind prior to the 13-hour rampage.
RCMP investigators have previously said Wortman liquidated his assets and stockpiled things like gas and other supplies due to fears over COVID-19. A court document released in May revealed that people told the investigators the gunman was a “psychopath,” had a history of abuse and was “paranoid” about the novel coronavirus pandemic.
And according to documents released in September, the gunman’s spouse told police that in the weeks prior to the attacks he was “consumed” by the pandemic, talking about it constantly and saying he “knew he was going to die.”
“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.
Meanwhile, an unidentified witness told an RCMP investigator that the gunman had previously done “a lot of shooting” in the Hainsville, Maine area and had attended gun shows.
“(Redacted) said that he and Gabriel Worman went to a bunch of gun shows and that he would see Gabriel several times a year but it was very casual,” the documents said.
The heavily redacted documents also contain new information about the gunman’s travel history to and from the United States.
On April 25, 2019, roughly one year before carrying out the mass killings, Wortman entered Maine, via the border crossing in Woodstock, N.B. Two days later he crossed back into Canada at 2:33 p.m. before returning to Maine at 2:46 – less than 15 minutes later.
The RCMP has previously said of the five firearms possessed by the gunman, three were obtained illegally from the United States and one was obtained illegally in Canada. Mounties have said he didn’t have any kind of licence to possess firearms in Canada.
“One of the guns was obtained illegally in Canada through the estate of a deceased associate,” an RCMP spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “The calibre of the weapons is not being released. Determining where and how the gunman obtained the firearms is part of the investigation, which is ongoing.”
Other details from the RCMP warrant released Monday include the gunman’s internet search history, which contained several bookmarks related to collecting police clothing and equipment, replicating police IDs, and websites related to firearms.
The documents also show a detailed timeline of when the gunman began purchasing police vehicle accessories starting in March 2019, which included things like a centre console for a 2013 Ford Taurus, a police push bumper ram bar, siren lights and a rung rack, among other items.
The RCMP declined to answer any other questions or interviews citing the ongoing public inquiry into the April shootings.
“With the public inquiry now ongoing, the most appropriate and unbiased opportunity to do so is with our full participation in the inquiry,” Cpl. Lisa Croteau said in an email. “The inquiry is underway and RCMP is fully cooperating. The RCMP will respectfully refrain from further commenting on these matters outside of the inquiry.”