At 7:27am on April 19, 2020, the RCMP obtained the above photo of the fake police car driven by the man in the midst of a killing spree. Three RCMP officers — unnamed officers in the RCMP’s Colchester and East Hants detachments, and Cst. Ian Fahie out of Pictou — looked at the photo and saw that there was a black push bar on the front of the car.
That detail was missed by everyone else, including Staff Sergeant Bruce Briers, who was the risk manager operating out of the Operational Control Centre in Truro. And no one informed Briers of the push bar.
In his testimony before the Mass Casualty Commission yesterday, Briers said that had he known about the push bar, he would have notified all RMCP officers about it and, perhaps, the killer could’ve been stopped.
In particular, Briers pointed to an incident on Highway 4, when Cpl. Rodney Peterson passed the killer. (Briers mistakenly referred to Peterson as “Cst. MacDonald.”) Here’s the radio transcript:
9:47:24am — PETERSON: I just saw an RCMP office — ah, car going towards Masstown on number 4 there, guys. Is that fully marked, like, or is it an ex-police car?
9:47:36am — H – ERT Base: The car we’re looking for is a fully marked PC, 28-Bravo-11, ID of it.
9:47:43am — PETERSON: Yeah, he just passed me going to Masstown, I think. He got a reflective vest on, guys.
9:47:53am — H – ERT Base: OK, go again.
9:47:56am — PETERSON: That vehicle just passed me. Ah, he’s almost to Masstown on the number 4.
9:48:04am — H – ERT Base: Copy
9:48:06 — PETERSON: The guy ah, was driving slow, smiled as he went by. Ah, white Caucasian male, ah looked like brownish hair. He’s got a reflective ah, vest or jacket on.
9:48:18am — CST. BROWN: That — that’s him! That’s got to be him. And it’s 28-Bravo-11, not 48.
9:48:18am — PETERSON: Yeah, not sure — not sure ah, the call sign was, ah, he’s passed me now. I’m not sure if he went on the Highway or not.
Fahie then radioed: “heads up — he has a front push bar, front push bar.”
By the time Peterson was able to turn around to pursue, he lost sight of the killer, who had pulled into the Fisher property.
Had Peterson known about the black push bar he may have recognized the killer’s car before passing it and, speculated Briers, engaged the killer, stopping him in his tracks.
After that missed opportunity, the killer went on to murder five more people — Heather O’Brien, Kristen Beaton, Heidi Stevenson, Joey Webber, and Gina Goulet.
“I have to live with that, and I’ve lived with that for two-plus years,” said Briers.
Briers was questioned by lawyer Josh Bryson; watch his emotional testimony here: