Canada mass shooting: Radio dispatches reveal chaos behind 13-hour hunt for killer in fake police car

James Crump
·3 min read
A damaged RCMP vehicle in Nova Scotia: (Reuters)
A damaged RCMP vehicle in Nova Scotia: (Reuters)

Police radio dispatches have revealed a chaotic and confused 13 hour manhunt, for the killer in Canada‘s worst ever mass shooting.

Over the weekend, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, driving a fake police car, impersonated an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and killed at least 22 people.

The police force has been criticised in the days since the mass killing and have been accused of communicating poorly with the public.

In the dispatches, released by AFP on Thursday, the hunt for Wortman can be followed through several hours in Nova Scotia.

The manhunt began on Saturday at 10:46pm, when police were informed of a shooting by a member of the public.

A few minutes later, officers responding to the scene reported on a police scanner: “We’re seeing huge flames and smoke from where we are.”

Wortman set fire to houses and shot the residents as they escaped their homes.

Less than an hour later, at 11:21pm, an officer asked if the killer had been located, but a police dispatcher replied: “They don’t know if they’ve caught him.”

The situation became more confused when local police tweeted about an active shooter, but didn’t issue an emergency alert to everyone in the area.

Nick Beaton, whose wife was killed by Wortman, told CTV that he didin't understand why the police tweeted about the situation, instead of issuing an emergency alert.

“I don’t use Twitter, and I don’t know anyone that does use Twitter,” he said.

Officers were unable to locate the shooter throughout the night and Wortman was able to continue his devastating killing spree.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Constable Heidi Stevenson rammed her car into the back of Wortman’s fake police vehicle, after police were alerted to his location, when CCTV footage had captured him in a car park, minutes before.

According to AFP, Wortman got out of his vehicle and shot and killed the veteran Mountie officer.

At 11:14am, police officers were able to locate Wortman and a police helicopter radioed his location.

“We’re just overhead vehicle fire at the intersection of Highway 2 and (inaudible). Looks like there might be a police car involved. There’s other police vehicles there,” they said.

Officers managed to catch the 51-year-old and shot and killed him 62 miles from the scene of the first death and over 13 hours from the first report of a shooting.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather defended his officers’ actions and said that they offered “the best and clearest information that could be provided.”

Mr Leather revealed that the police set up two parameters to search for Wortman, but were unable to locate the suspect before Ms Stevenson attempted to apprehend him.

He said that they were about to issue an emergency alert when officers shot and killed Wortman and Mr Leather added that he was “very satisfied with the messaging,” of his force.

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