a woman and a man
Carole and Adam Fisher. Photo: ditcchdoctor.ca

“It was a shock. It still is — to realize we are the only frigging survivors — and why?”

That’s what Adam Fisher told RCMP Cst. Mike Townsend after Adam’s encounter with a mass murderer.

Adam and Carole Fisher live on Highway 4 near Glenholme. On Saturday night, April 18, 2020, Carole’s mother called to warn that there were reports of shootings and RCMP presence in Portapique, just 15 minutes from the Fishers’ house. They locked their doors.

In the morning, Carole saw a Facebook post that linked the Portapique shootings of Greg and Jamie Blair with a close-up photograph of the suspect.

“Adam, it’s fucking Gabe,” said Carole. “Gabe’s the shooter.”

“Holy fuck, he’s got a cop car,” Adam replied. 

Adam had met Gabe several years earlier when he hired Adam, who owns an excavation business, to do some work on his property. The Fishers and Gabe found they shared a passion for motorcycles and outdoor living, and both men shared an interest in building projects. Adam said he didn’t especially consider Gabe a friend — more an “acquaintance” — but they occasionally visited each other’s home.

About a year earlier, Adam visited the warehouse on Orchard Beach Drive, where Gabe showed him two unmarked police cruisers and boasted about his plans to transform one into a replica vehicle. “Why would you want to do that?” Adam recalled asking him. Gabe shrugged. “Because I can,” he said.

Adam called 911. He related that Gabe owned a fully decalled RCMP vehicle. The call-taker thanked him and said somebody would get back to him.

So Adam and Carole weren’t surprised when 12 minutes later a white police cruiser turned up their long driveway. A police officer must’ve been coming to talk to them about Gabe.

The Fishers didn’t then now it, but earlier that morning Alanna Jenkins, Sean McLeod, and Tom Bagley were murdered on Hunter Road, and just 10 minutes before, Lillian Campbell was shot dead on the side of the road in Wentworth.

As they saw the car come up the driveway, both Adam and Carole ran upstairs to get dressed. Each watched curiously from an upstairs window as they saw a man in a black ballcap and reflective vest reach for something on the passenger side — apparently a gun — get out of the car and walk to the back of their house. Both Carole and Adam realized this was not an RCMP officer. 

It was Gabe. 

He rang the doorbell.

“He’s here to kill us,” Adam thought. “It’s like fucking watching a Terminator movie. When he got out of the car, he was stone cold and collected. He was in no hurry,” he told Cst. Townsend.

For the second time that Sunday, Adam Fisher dialled 911 on his cellphone. It was 9:48am.

“Gabriel Wortman is at my house,” Adam told the call-taker. “He’s driving a police car. I seen him pull over in the yard. He got out dressed like a police officer.”

“Are you sure that it was him?” asked the call-taker.

“I’m positive.”

Adam went into his bedroom, opened the gun cabinet and began loading his 12-gauge shotgun while still on the line with 911. “If he comes up to my house, I’m going to blow his fucking head off,” he told the call-taker.

Meanwhile, Carole locked herself in the bathroom and also called 911. (The 911 centre alerted RCMP officers that the suspect was at the Fishers location at 9:50am). Carole described becoming progressively more terrified and repeating their civic address to the dispatcher begging for someone to come.

“I thought he had got into our house and I thought he was in here,” she later told an RCMP interviewer. “I thought he had killed my dog because Gus wasn’t making a noise anymore. I just kept pleading (to 911) to help us, he’s taking our life.”

Carole said she is normally a strong and positive person but became convinced she was going to die. At one point she got in the bathtub and wrapped herself in the shower curtain. She texted friends telling them the killer was there and urging them to lock their doors. She called her brother and her mother to say she loved them.

Shortly before 10am, the Emergency Response Team that had been in the Portapique area showed up at the Fishers with an Armoured Vehicle and canine unit. The couple could hear a helicopter (supplied by Natural Resources) overhead. An officer was using a loud hailer urging the shooter “to come out with hands up.”

“Through all the noise, I thought I was going to experience severe gunfire,” Carole recalled during the RCMP interview. “I felt that he was going to open up on the police and there was going to be lives lost on our property.”

Manhunt continued

As suddenly as the RCMP officers arrived, they left. 

At approximately 10:05, a report of another shooting was broadcast over police radios, this one on the Plains Road, which intersects with Highway 4 about two kilometres north of the Fishers’ home.

The Fishers had no idea there was another shooting. Adam thought it likely the killer could be hiding in his workshop at the back of the property because he had shown it to Gabe many years ago. Adam stayed on the line with 911 until 10:33, unsure if Gabe was still there.

The video from Fishers’ home surveillance system later revealed the killer was at their home for no more than three or four minutes, departing at 9:51 — just minutes ahead of when the SWAT team arrived.

 “Whether first responding members at the Fisher residence arrived at 9:52am or minutes later, it is clear the perpetrator had left the Fisher property and proceeded north on Highway #4 to Plains Road, unobserved, shortly before police arrived,” reads the report on the incident prepared by the Mass Casualty Commission.

In fact, that marked the second time within half an hour the killer had come very close to bring captured. 

At 9:47am, a Bible Hill RCMP officer heading north on Highway 4 to respond to the shooting of Lillian Campbell radioed dispatch to say he had passed an RCMP car heading south toward Glenholme. At the time, Cpl. Rodney Peterson said he was unaware the killer was driving a fully marked RCMP vehicle. Peterson knew about the shootings but said he headed to Wentworth before he was able to access the RCMP tweet and photo of the replica car available on the work station in his vehicle. 

“The guy was driving slowly — smiling as he went by,” said Peterson. “White Caucasian male, brown hair, he’s got a reflective vest on.”

Peterson was informed he had just seen the suspect. He continued north for about a kilometre on the two-lane highway before making a U-turn to pursue. Peterson lost him. By that time, the driver of the fake RCMP car had turned right and headed up the long treed driveway to Adam Fisher’s house.

During the interview with the RCMP officer after their ordeal, Fisher questioned why the killer came to their home that fateful Sunday morning.

“It doesn’t make sense he would come here to kill me and my wife and leave without making a mark,” said Adam.

“I remember him flattering me with comments and telling Adam I was such a great wife,” Carole recalled. “Like ‘Geez man, your wife drives a ‘Vette and a Harley’ so how cool are you? And he wanted a similar type of relationship with Lisa.”

It’s possible the killer turned up their driveway as a precaution against being followed. It doesn’t explain why he didn’t force his way in and shoot them as he had others. The Fishers know they are very lucky to be alive.


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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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