Replica police car
The killer’s replica police car. Photo: RCMP

On Sunday morning, April 19, the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) was alerted that a gunman (GW) was heading towards the Halifax Regional Municipality in a look-alike RCMP cruiser, and was heavily armed.

Despite those warnings, HRP denied a request from its Emergency Response Team that additional members be called in.

Later in the morning, HRP issued orders to its members “not to shoot” the gunman, but to prevent him from entering HRM.

Those are the allegations made by a person who purports to be a member of the HRP. That person contacted the Halifax Examiner out of what they said was frustration with the HRP response as the mass shooting was unfolding. We have not been able to verify the identity of the informant, but the information the informant relayed suggests that that person is credible. For instance, the person provided a HRP case # that appears to be valid. And other information provided appears consistent with HRP procedures.

We provided some of the details the informant provided to us to HRP police chief Dan Kinsella and gave him a detailed list of questions and otherwise asked for comment. The complete response back came from HRP public information officer Cst. John McLeod:

As this is an ongoing investigation led by the RCMP it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the specifics of it. Please contact them directly for information in relation to this incident.

HRP did not say the information provided to the Examiner was incorrect or otherwise refute it.

Here’s the information given to the Examiner.

• At 7:23am, the RCMP informed HRP that Wortman is in a look-alike police vehicle: “Gabriel Wortman has an RCMP vehicle, a Taurus, complete with light, decals, and has 28 Bravo 11 on the vehicle. He also has an RCMP uniform. He has weapons stored at a location in Masstown, as well as Portland Street, and he’s purchased lots of ammo.”

That was almost a hour after the RCMP was told by GW’s common-law spouse that GW was driving such a vehicle. It as also an hour-and-a-half before the RCMP tweeted out GW’s name and photo. And the RCMP notification to HRP that GW was driving a look-alike police cruiser was made almost three hours before the RCMP notified the public of that fact via Twitter.

One of the Examiner’s questions to Kinsella was: Why wasn’t that information immediately conveyed to the public?

• At 7:48am, the HRP emergency response team requested additional ERT members be called in. That request was denied.

We asked Kinsella: Can you explain who denied that request, and why it was denied? Do you think that HRP members or the general public may have been put at greater risk because the request was denied?

• At 10:26am, HRP issued an order to its members to not travel past the airport, which is the approximate boundary of the HRP service area.

We asked Kinsella: Did the RCMP request assistance that might have necessitated leaving HRM or the service area of the HRM? And if so, why wasn’t that allowed? Also, what was the operational basis for the decision to order HRP members not to travel farther than the airport?

• At 10:56am, HRP issued an order “not to shoot” GW, but his vehicle was to be prevented from entering HRM.

We asked Kinsella: Why would members be instructed not to shoot a person known to have killed multiple victims? How would officers stop GW’s vehicle without shooting at him?

We additionally asked Kinsella if he has instituted an institutional review of HRP’s response to events of that morning, and if he has any other comments concerning these incidents.

If Kinsella responds, we will update this post.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I can well imagine how hard it must be to answer media questions when your hands are busy with paper shredders.

    I won’t be surprised if the most revealing records of the 50 years of GW’s interactions with public officials in New Brunswick, the USA, Ontario and Nova Scotia turn out to be ‘missing’ by the time public inquiry investigators come calling…

    And it is still hard to believe that you could be the Police’s biggest “Groupie”, complete with your own shrine, with no one in blue being aware of that.

  2. Was there ever a more horrid series of events in Nova Scotia that screamed “FULL INQUEST”?

  3. ” We asked Kinsella: Why would members be instructed not to shoot a person known to have killed multiple victims? ”
    The number of victims is not relevant. If the alleged killer came out of a vehicle with no visible weapons and hands above the head and shouting ‘I surrender. Don’t shoot’ how would a police officer justify shooting and possibly killing the person ?
    The powers of HRP are set out in section 42 of the Police Act, I don’t think they can act outside HRM without a court order or arrest warrant or the permission/instruction of the Minister of Justice.
    I am not sure what the HRP standing orders are regarding such a situation. Ask a lawyer, she/he may give you a better explanation.

    1. I have yet to meet any reporter who knows of this document and I do not know if HRP has adopted the standards or has put in place its own standards. I have known of this series of documents for many years and I don’t know how any journalist who covers the Board of Police Commissioners can do a good job without knowing the Policing Standards of HRP. I have never heard any discussion re the standards and I doubt the HRM Council is aware of the standards. I say that not as a criticism of Tim but an observation that journalists who cover the BOPC on a regular basis should know the rules regarding policing in Nova Scotia.
      As they say in sports ‘ If you don’t know the rules you won’t win the game’.

      Policing Standards :

      2.1 Jurisdiction
      A written directive delineates the specific geographical boundaries of
      the department’s jurisdiction.
      2. 1. 1
      It Is fundamental that the department clearly describe In writing
      the geographical boundaries of its jurisdiction. A detailed
      official map, Including the boundaries of the jurisdiction, may
      satisfy the requirements of this standard. (M M M)

      The Intent of the standard is to encourage a department to
      identify its responsibilities, recognizing the problems Inherent
      in providing law enforcement services in concurrent
      jurisdictions. Concurrent jurisdictional situations may not
      always be avoidable, especially if they are mandated by law,
      the result of long-standing agreements, or serve a useful
      operational purpose for the jurisdictions involved. (M M M)