Nova Scotia shooting death toll reaches 19

Apr 20 2020, 11:16 am

Mounties in Nova Scotia said a mass shooting over the weekend, the deadliest in Canada’s history, left at least 19 people dead.

Some of the victims were known to the shooter, and others were not, Chief Supt. Chris Leather said at a media briefing Monday afternoon local time. One of the deceased is veteran RCMP officer Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was killed while responding to the active shooter call.

Another officer, Const. Chad Morrison, is recovering from his injuries at home after being discharged from hospital.

The shooting spree involved at least 16 crime scenes, some of which were lit on fire, Leather said. The death toll could still increase.

The 51-year-old suspect led police on a 12-hour overnight search along rural highways before he was located near Enfield, Nova Scotia. There was an exchange of gunfire between the officers and the suspect, and the suspect was left dead, according to the Nova Scotia police watchdog, which investigates all police-involved serious injuries and deaths.

Leather said the shooter was driving a “mock” RCMP cruiser and was either wearing a real police uniform or a “very good” fabrication. The suspect’s Mountie disguise and “vehicle that looked identical to a marked police car” likely helped him move around the province undetected for so long, Leather added.

At some point, the shooter could no longer drive his cruiser lookalike, so he acquired a citizen’s vehicle, a silver Chevy Tracker, Leather said. He wouldn’t give details on how the suspect took the car.

Leather faced questions from reporters about why an emergency alert push notification was not sent to cellphones across the province during the chase, to which he said he did not have a good answer.

Leather also directed questions to the police watchdog about why the RCMP initially tweeted the suspect was in custody when he was in fact dead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau devoted his daily press briefing on Monday to the Nova Scotia attack.

“We are a country that stands united in our effort to defeat a pandemic, save lives, and help each other make it to a better day,” said Trudeau. “But yesterday, we were jolted from that common cause by the senseless violence and tragedy in Nova Scotia.”

On Friday, there will be a virtual vigil for the shooting victims.

Prior to this weekend’s attack, the École Polytechnique massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.

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