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In Canada, More Than A Dozen People Killed In Nova Scotia Shootings

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This weekend brought the worst shooting in Canada's history. A gunman killed at least 16 people in Nova Scotia. Police say the suspect, who disguised himself as an officer, is now dead. Reporter Emma Jacobs is on the line from Montreal. Thanks for being here, Emma.

EMMA JACOBS: Thanks for having me.

GREENE: So how did this all unfold?

JACOBS: So police first responded to several 911 calls about a shooting on Saturday night, sometime after 11. They found multiple victims when they arrived. This is Chief Superintendent Chris Leather speaking at a press conference on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

CHRIS LEATHER: When police arrived at the scene, members located several casualties inside and outside of the home. This was a very quickly evolving situation and a chaotic scene.

JACOBS: The initial search for the suspect led to multiple sites in the area, including structures that were on fire. By the morning, they had publicly identified who they were looking for. They said he was Gabriel Wortman, and police shared that he was dressed like an RCMP officer. And at least part of the time that they were pursuing him, he was in a car that looked like a police vehicle. The RCMP, I should say, is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

And this manhunt ended in a confrontation near a rest stop outside of Halifax in the community of Enfield. There was an exchange of fire with police. And it was shared later in the day that Wortman had died as well as a policewoman who was also killed. Her name was Constable Heidi Stevenson, and she had been with the RCMP for 23 years. She had two kids.

GREENE: Wow. Well, I just - I mean, for this guy, as police say, to go around disguising himself as an officer in a car that looked like a police vehicle - I mean anything we know about him that might suggest why he did this?

JACOBS: So the police really haven't shared what they think may have been his motive except to say that at least some of the victims, they don't appear to have been known to him; they do seem random. He was 51. He apparently worked as a denturist; that means he made dentures. And the CBC has reported that he lived part time in Halifax and part time in this very, very small town where this all began called Portapique.

GREENE: What are Canadian officials saying in this moment?

JACOBS: So again, police officials are saying, you know, they're going to continue with this investigation; they'll know more once they're able to process all these crime scenes. On Sunday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil called this, quote, "one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province's history."

GREENE: Well - and shootings like this are rare in Canada, right? I mean, can you just remind us about the gun laws there?

JACOBS: So the gun laws are tighter. Canada overhauled its gun laws after a shooting that took place in 1989. We just observed the 20th (ph) anniversary a couple months ago in Montreal. A man named Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself. And it is now illegal in Canada to have an unregistered handgun or what's called a rapid-fire weapon in Canada. And there are a lot more checks to go through before you can can purchase a weapon.

GREENE: All right. Reporter Emma Jacobs talking to us from Montreal about the worst shooting in Canada's history. Emma, thank you very much.

JACOBS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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