The final victim in Nova Scotia’s mass shooting knew the killer and told her daughter she was afraid he could be headed for her home, about an hour before he arrived in her driveway on April 19, 2020.
A summary document released Wednesday by a public inquiry says Gina Goulet was shot at about 11 a.m. in her house in the Shubenacadie area, about 60 kilometres north of Halifax, roughly 10 minutes after a final text to her daughter Amelia Butler.
The mass killing of 22 people had begun the night before in the rural community of Portapique, 70 kilometres to the northwest, but the killer eluded police, spent the night in an industrial park and continued his rampage.
According to the exchange of text messages, also released by the inquiry, Goulet had heard and read warnings that Gabriel Wortman, a fellow denturist, had been killing people.
“Gabriel, that denturist that wanted me to work for him, he’s running loose with a gun,” Goulet wrote to her daughter.
At about 9:59 a.m. Goulet wrote, “He knows where I live …. I hope they catch him.”
Initially, the two discussed how they felt it was unlikely that the killer could reach Shubenacadie without being caught, but then the text exchange noted he was still at large.
“My anxiety just got bad,” the mother wrote at 10:10 a.m., adding another denturist had just texted her to suggest she keep her doors locked.
The daughter replied at 10:12 a.m.: “I can understand why it would. I wish I could give you big, squishy hugs.” She also reassured her, “that is a long trek from there (Portapique) to your house and he would have to get across the (Cobequid) Bay unnoticed.”
Goulet’s reactions appear to demonstrate how quickly people were picking up on any piece of information police would provide.
At 10:27 a.m., Goulet texted to her daughter, “He’s driving an RCMP-like car. This is wild. Wow,” just 10 minutes after a police tweet revealing Wortman was driving a replica patrol car.
“Do me a favour to give me peace of mind, keep your phone close so I know I can get ahold of you,” the mother wrote at 10:23 a.m.
As the text messages went back and forth, Butler noted that there had been warnings the killer was in Wentworth, north of Truro, and at 10:43 a.m., the daughter said the killer may have been seen in the Debert and Onslow areas.
Goulet wrote she was thinking of going grocery shopping, but the daughter suggested it was safer to stay home and wait until police captured the killer.
Goulet’s final texts are chilling, as she tells her daughter, “I’m nervous. I hope they start blocking the roads.” She then continued, “Like I said, he’s a smart man. Almost too smart,” referring to Wortman’s ability to create a replica RCMP car.
According to the summary, Goulet tried to call her daughter at 10:58 a.m., but when Butler answered, she didn’t hear her mother’s voice at the other end. She frantically called her back multiple times.
Minutes earlier, the killer had left the scene of his murders of RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson and Joey Webber, a young man who had stopped to assist. He had headed down Highway 224, towards the main highway to Halifax, driving Webber’s SUV.
A witness told the public inquiry Wortman passed Goulet’s home, but “did a U-turn shortly thereafter and proceeded back to her residence.”
The inquiry’s summary says the killer parked the SUV in her backyard, out of sight of passing vehicles. Minutes later, RCMP officers drove by in pursuit, looking up driveways as they went, but from the road they were unable see the silver vehicle behind Goulet’s house.
The perpetrator is estimated to have been at the house for five to 10 minutes, committing the murder before carrying on towards the main highway, now driving Goulet’s Mazda.
Amelia Butler and her husband David Butler left their home at 10:58 a.m., worried about Goulet. They encountered a police roadblock and had to detour before arriving at 11:55 a.m., where the inquiry’s summary says “Butler found Goulet deceased in her home while Amelia Butler called 911.”
According to the family’s statement to the mass casualty commission last August, they felt neglected by the RCMP after the killing.
“In the days that followed, no police officers ever reached out to Amelia and Dave to confirm that Gina had died. No one approached them to confirm anything. It was obvious to Amelia and Dave that is what had happened, but no one confirmed it,” the statement said.
It said this occurred even though Amelia and Dave Butler provided at least four police officers their information and telephone numbers and asked police to contact them.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2022.