Canada mass shooting erupted from argument, official says

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s worst mass shooting erupted from an argument between the gunman and his girlfriend, who survived the attack, a police official said.

The official confirmed to The Associated Press (AP) late on Thursday that the weekend shooting rampage in Nova Scotia stemmed from a domestic dispute involving the couple. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said more details would be provided at a news conference later.

Police have said 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman acted alone in the shooting spree that killed at least 22 people across northern and central Nova Scotia. There are 16 crime scenes in five different rural communities throughout northern and central Nova Scotia.

The suspect was shot to death last Sunday morning, about 13 hours after the attacks began.

Several bodies were found inside and outside one house in the rural town of Portapique, police have said. Bodies were also found in four other communities, and authorities believe the shooter targetted his first victims but then began attacking randomly as he drove around.

Police have said Wortman carried out much of the attack disguised as a police officer in a vehicle marked to seem like a patrol car. They said he shot people in and around their homes and set fires to homes in Portapique.

Wortman, who owned a denture practice in the city of Dartmouth, near Halifax, lived part time in Portapique, according to residents. Atlantic Denture Clinic, his practice, had been closed the past month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities said Wortman did not have a police record, but information later emerged of at least one run-in with the law. Nova Scotia court records confirm he was ordered to receive counselling for anger management after pleading guilty to assaulting a man in the Halifax area on October 29, 2001.

A woman pays her respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, Nova Scotia. PHOTO: AP