Nova Scotia

N.S. mass shooter allegedly had guns, drugs, secret rooms, court documents say

The man responsible for the mass shooting in Nova Scotia had a stockpile of guns and drugs, and false walls and hiding spots on his properties, according to newly unsealed court documents that summarize police interviews.

Gabriel Wortman smuggled drugs from Maine 'for years,' associate told police

The burnt-out remains of Gabriel Wortman's home on Portapique Beach Road, N.S., on May 13. Police asked for permission to search three properties in the wake of his deadly rampage. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The man responsible for the mass shooting in Nova Scotia had a stockpile of guns and drugs, and false walls and hiding spots on his properties, according to newly unsealed court documents that summarize police interviews.   

Provincial Court Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie on Monday released some previously redacted sections of search warrant applications filed by the RCMP.

Police applied for permission to search Gabriel Wortman's properties — a clinic in Dartmouth, and a cottage and large garage both in Portapique — after he killed friends, neighbours and strangers while masquerading as a Mountie on April 18 and 19. 

The rampage that left 22 people dead unfolded over about 13 hours, before police shot and killed him. 

In a subsequent interview with Halifax Regional Police, someone who knew Wortman for nine years described him as a "sexual predator" who provided people in Portapique and nearby Economy with drugs. That same person, who had not seen Wortman for eight months, claimed he had smuggled drugs from Maine "for years" and kept a stockpile of guns, according to the documents.

The faces of the 22 victims of the mass killing. The rampage that left 22 people dead unfolded over about 13 hours, before police shot and killed the gunman. (CBC)

The drugs included a bag of 10,000 OxyContin and 15,000 Dilaudid pills he'd picked up in New Brunswick, the person told police.

The allegations have not been tested in court. RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell told CBC News in June that police had found no evidence Wortman had income generated from any illegal activity. 

The same witness — in details made public when the judge released a heavily redacted copy of the search warrant in May — described Wortman as "controlling and paranoid" and would talk about "getting rid of bodies, burning and chemicals."

Some of that person's statement remains redacted, as do many sections throughout the summary of interviews. Among the new sections that were released Monday, that witness relayed there were two false walls in a bathroom and two others in a garage, and a storage room under a large deck in Portapique.

Another witness, who also told investigators Wortman had a history of domestic violence, said he had shown off a hidden compartment under a workbench in his garage, where he stored a high-powered rifle. That same witness said there was a "false wall" in his shed in Dartmouth.

A third person told police "there is a secret room in the clinic in Dartmouth," the documents state. Wortman worked as a denturist and lived above the clinic.

RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk wrote in her summary of their findings that people referenced "secret hiding spots."

The gunman's cottage in Portapique was destroyed in a fire he set, but a large deck along the shore was mostly intact. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The Mounties have said part of their investigation into the killings is looking at how the shooter obtained an authentic police uniform and how he outfitted a decommissioned RCMP cruiser to appear authentic.

The court documents include summaries of statements given to investigators and information gathered in the case. The information was used to convince justices of the peace to grant the search warrants. The RCMP requested the information and search warrants be sealed.

References to uncle 

Two references to the shooter's uncle were among the previously redacted details released Monday evening.

One person told police Wortman "had an uncle who is a retired RCMP member and this uncle gave Gabriel parts of his uniform."

Wortman's spouse, in her interview with police, said he had a uniform belonging to an uncle in the RCMP but it didn't fit him, according to the document.

Police have said the shooter had estranged relatives who were retired from the RCMP, but that they did not provide the uniform he used during the rampage. Campbell said in April police had learned the shooter had several uniforms from different police agencies, but it was impossible to recover them as Wortman had burned his cottage in Portapique. 

Wortman carried out his rampage using a vehicle made to look like an RCMP cruiser in every way, with the exception of the numbers police circled in this photo. (Nova Scotia RCMP)

Ongoing questions

CBC News and other media outlets applied for access to the records, which RCMP initially asked be sealed. Closed hearings were held in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., last week and the judge has been considering whether to make public more than 1,000 blacked-out sections. A further hearing is planned for mid-August.

Halfpenny MacQuarrie said some sections would remain redacted because of the ongoing investigation. 

Since April, there have been ongoing questions about the RCMP's response to the shootings and the force's handling of past complaints about the gunman.

A CBC investigation revealed police agencies across Nova Scotia were warned in 2011 about a tip that Wortman threatened "to kill a cop." Two years later, a woman who lived in Portapique at the time reported to RCMP that he had illegal guns and was abusive toward his spouse.

Last week, provincial and federal governments announced three people have been appointed to an independent review panel to consider the causes, context and circumstances that led to the tragedy. But families of the people killed have said that falls well short of the public inquiry for which they have been calling.

In Halifax and Bridgewater on Monday, some family members joined together with supporters and politicians to continue calling for a public inquiry.

Nick Beaton, whose wife Kristen Beaton was killed in the April massacre, said not getting answers these past few months has been 'hell.' (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

MORE TOP STORIES

About the Author

Elizabeth McMillan is a journalist with CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. Over the past 11 years, she has reported from the edge of the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Coast and loves sharing people's stories. Please send tips and feedback to elizabeth.mcmillan@cbc.ca

now