Update: The death toll reached 19 in Canada’s worst mass shooting and is expected to rise as authorities search homes that were set ablaze in Nova Scotia.
Also, new reports indicate the gunman, while dressed ans an RCMP officer and in a official looking vehicle, was pulling motorists over and executing them.
Montreal (dpa) – The death toll in Canada’s worst mass shooting climbed to 19 on Monday, while police in the Atlantic coast province of Nova Scotia said they expected the number to rise even higher following the weekend’s 12-hour shooting spree by a gunman disguised as a police officer.
Speaking at a press conference in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said police were combing through 16 crime scenes across northern and central parts of the province.
The gunman, who cut a swath of mayhem and destruction across nearly 100 kilometres of normally tranquil rural Nova Scotia on late Saturday and early Sunday, was eventually killed in a shootout with police.
Leather said police were “relatively confident” that they identified all the crime scenes, however, they’ve been unable to fully examine some of the crime scenes.
“We have had five structure fires — most of those being residences — and we believe there may be victims still within the remains of those homes, which burnt to the ground,” Leather said.
“That part of the investigation is still ongoing and speaks to the fact why we don’t have a final total because we expect that to rise in the coming days.”
Grief and bewilderment spread across tight-nit communities in Nova Scotia as officials began releasing the names of some of the victims of the shooting on Monday.
They included a female police officer, an elementary teacher, an elderly care nurse and a home care assistant.
Speaking at his daily briefing in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians were jolted from their efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic “by the senseless violence and tragedy in Nova Scotia.”
Trudeau praised RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, who was killed by the gunman in the line of duty.
“Constable Stevenson died protecting others,” Trudeau said. “She was answering the call of duty, something she had done every day when she went to work for 23 years.”
The tragedy unfolded in small towns of Portapique, Truro, Milford, and Enfield where people know their neighbours and look out for each other, Trudeau said.
“Now these communities are in mourning, and Canada is mourning with them,” Trudeau said.
On Monday morning, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) identified one of the victims as Lisa McCully.
“9,300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives,” Paul Wozney, president of the teachers’ union said in a statement.
The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) said two of its employees, Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton, were also killed in the rampage.
O’Brien was a licensed practical nurse, wife, mother and grandmother, VON president and CEO Jo-Anne Poirier said in a statement.
Beaton was a continuing care assistant, and a young wife and mother, she added.
“All of our front-line care providers are heroes. Yesterday, two of those heroes, Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton, were taken from their families, and from VON,” Poirier said. “We mourn their loss, and we mourn for their families.”
Investigators were looking for a motive on Monday, police said.
The known victims of the gunman include adult men and women, Leather said.
“It appears that some of the victims were known to the suspect and others were targeted and not known to the suspect,” Leather said.
Commissioner Brenda Lucki, head of the RCMP, told CBC News the rampage doesn’t appear to be linked to terrorism.
The gunman was not only dressed in police uniform but was also initially driving a car that was an exact replica of an actual RCMP cruiser, Leather said.
Police confirmed the gunman was not an employee of the force.
Trudeau asked the media to refrain from using the name of the perpetrator.
“Do not give this person the gift of infamy,” Trudeau said.
©2020 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.