Newly unsealed court documents suggest the gunman responsible for one of Canada’s worst mass killings had two handguns equipped with laser sights and stored grenades at one of his properties.
The new details on the Nova Scotia shooting are contained in RCMP applications to search Gabriel Wortman’s properties, released Wednesday following a provincial court hearing.
A witness who resides in Portapique, N.S. told RCMP investigators that on the night of April 18, he observed a large structure fire near their home. The witness drove to the area to investigate and came face-to-face with Wortman, who was parked in the driveway of the burning residence.
“[Redacted] ducked and one shot grazed the side of his head and the other got him in the shoulder,” says the document.
A long-time friend of the shooter also told Halifax Regional Police that Wortman had two crates of grenades from the United States, which were kept at the gunman’s property in Portapique also known as the ‘warehouse.’
Nova Scotia RCMP did search for evidence that the gunman had purchased or was in possession of grenades as part of their investigation, but declined to comment on their findings or the friend’s allegation on Wednesday.
Another witness told police that the gunman “in the past few weeks, had withdrew his money and hired Brinks to transport it to him. Gabriel Wortman took $750,000 to Portapique.” Another witness suggested, Wortman had buried some of that cash in the ground there.
Several of the redactions lifted on Wednesday dealt with hiding places at Wortman’s property in Portapique, including a witness statement about “a hidden compartment in the garage where he kept a high-powered rifle.
“The compartment was underneath the workbench.”
The documents also provide more details about the firearms used in the shootings, including a Colt carbine, a Sturm Ruger Mini-14 and two semi-automatic handguns, which were all illegally obtained and in three cases smuggled into Canada from the U.S.
According to a statement from RCMP Sgt. Larry Peyton, the Colt carbine rifle was sourced to a gun shop in California while the two handguns were sourced to a gun store in Maine. The Ruger Mini-14 was traced to a gun store in Winnipeg, Man., according to the documents.
“Sgt. Peyton was able to source this firearm to a gun shop in Winnipeg, but unlawfully obtained by Gabriel Wortman as he did not possess a firearms license and never had a firearms license,” the documents said.
The RCMP investigator also said there were at least five overcapacity magazines that could hold from 30-40 rounds discovered in the gunman’s vehicle, which were likely smuggled from the U.S.
A Glock .40 calibre, semi-automatic handgun was also discovered in the vehicle with an overcapacity magazine and a laser sight attached to the weapon, according to the investigator. A Ruger, 9 mm calibre semi-automatic handgun with a laser sight was also found in the car.
A business card for a Maine gun store, Bob & Tom’s Gun Shop, was found at one of the gunman’s properties, 193 Portland in Dartmouth, N.S. Attempts to reach the store’s owner for comment were not successful.
The information contained in the newly unsealed documents have not been proven in court.
“The inquiry is underway and RCMP is fully co-operating,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Lisa Croteau in an emailed statement. “The RCMP will respectfully refrain from further commenting on these matters outside of the inquiry.”
The commissioners of a joint federal-provincial inquiry in the “mass casualty” are still in the early stages of hiring staff and setting up an office to begin their work.
Last week, RCMP announced the common-law spouse of the gunman, Lisa Banfield, has been charged with providing him with ammunition.
Two other relatives were also charged with illegally providing him ammunition. Police said the trio had “no prior knowledge” of his attack plans and all three are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 27, 2021.
On April 18 and 19, Wortman killed 22 people — neighbours, acquaintances and strangers — during a 13-hour rampage across several communities in rural Nova Scotia while dressed as an RCMP officer.
According to the RCMP documents, he also set fire to his own cottage and garage, and three other homes before being shot dead by police at a gas station in Enfield, N.S.
Since then, media outlets — including Global News — have gone to court for the release of RCMP documents pertaining to the shooting, aiming to lift the veil of secrecy on what police know about the massacre.