Canada shooting: gunman kills 16 people after rampage in Nova Scotia

Gabriel Wortman suspected of shooting spree in the coastal town of Portapique before he died during standoff with police

A gunman in Canada posing as a police officer has killed 16 people after a 12-hour shooting rampage across Nova Scotia in the worst act of mass murder the country has seen in modern times.

Several bodies were found inside and outside one home in the small, rural town of Portapique, police said, and several homes were set on fire. Bodies were found at other locations and one police officer was also among the dead.

Officials said the gunman, named as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, died after shooting people in several locations across the province. By Sunday night, the death toll had risen to 16, plus the gunman, who died during a standoff with police. Authorities believe he may have targeted the first victims before going on to commit random attacks.

Authorities said Wortman was driving what appeared to be a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) car and was wearing a uniform but later reported he was at the wheel of a Chevrolet SUV that had been modified to resemble a police vehicle – one that he has basically made himself, said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation. Police have said the suspect was not an employee or officer with the RCMP.

RCMP Commanding officer Lee Bergman said on Sunday evening: Today is a devastating day for Nova Scotia and it will remain etched in the minds of many for years to come.

The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, speaking to reporters in Ottawa, deplored what he called a terrible situation.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has far tighter gun control laws than the United States.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said: We believe it to be one person who is responsible for all the killings and that he alone moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides.

Sauvé said a police officer was among those killed in a shooting and another was injured. The dead officer has been identified as Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two who had served on the force for 23 years.

“Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served,” Bergerman said on Sunday evening. “Two children have lost their mother, and a husband has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague,” he said.

The massacre looked to be the worst of its kind since a gunman killed 15 women in Montreal in December 1989. A man driving a van deliberately ran over and killed 10 people in Toronto in April 2018 and a man shot dead six people at an Islamic cultural center in Quebec City in 2017.

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