N.S. shooting victim Joey Webber showed 'best and kindest' of humanity by stopping to help
Warning: details in this story are disturbing
In the hours after Joey Webber was killed while stopping to help at a crash between an RCMP officer and Nova Scotia's mass killer, his sister and father drove around the area looking for him as his partner repeatedly called his phone.
They wouldn't find out until that evening that Webber had been killed after randomly crossing paths with the gunman in Shubenacadie, N.S., according to new details released this week by the commission leading the public inquiry into the April 2020 shooting rampage.
"Joey did what he thought was right — he stopped to help people he thought were in trouble," Rob Pineo, a lawyer whose firm is representing many of the victims' families, including Webber's, wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. "That kindness cost him his life as the monster who killed so many others also killed him."
The new documents detail what the Mass Casualty Commission believes happened to Webber the day he was killed by the gunman, who over 13 hours murdered 22 people, including a pregnant woman, and was driving a mock RCMP cruiser.
Webber, who was one of the gunman's last victims, was "a country boy who worked hard, was an amazing horseman, and, above all, loved his family," Pineo wrote. He said Webber was known in his community as a guy who would give anybody a hand when they needed one.
"Joey died a hero. His family can take that into their hearts to try to [soothe] the pain of his loss," Pineo said.
The morning of April 19, 2020, Webber, 36, was talking over the events from the night before in the community of Portapique, N.S., with his partner, Shanda MacLeod, at their home in Wyses Corner, N.S. MacLeod told him there was some "crazy person" there shooting people and burning homes.
"That kind of stuff doesn't happen here," MacLeod recalled Webber saying.
The couple did not know about the gunman's mock cruiser. They went about their morning as usual, since "we didn't know that we were in danger or anything," MacLeod said in a later police interview.
After kissing his partner and children, Webber drove out to get furnace oil in MacLeod's mother's silver 2008 Ford Escape around 10 a.m., and arrived at the Esso gas stop in Milford, N.S., at 10:37 a.m.
RCMP sent a tweet at 10:17 a.m., alerting the public for the first time the gunman was driving a replica cruiser.
Webber tries to help at collision scene
On his way home, Webber made his way through Shubenacadie, and took the interchange where he came upon a crash between Const. Heidi Stevenson and the gunman.
He stopped and got out of his SUV, acting as a "Good Samaritan," according to witness Elizabeth Small, who had been driving by with her husband and stopped when they saw the cruisers collide.
"In an act that is consistent with only the best and kindest attributes of humanity, Joey Webber observed the accident, pulled over his vehicle and got out of his car," commission counsel Anna Mancini said Monday as she presented the documents about Shubenacadie.
"One witness indicated that it looked as though Joey was running to help."
Stevenson was killed during a gunfight with the killer, managing to get off 14 shots and likely injuring him.
Small and other witnesses reported seeing the gunman direct Webber into the back seat of his mock cruiser, where he fatally shot him. The gunman then moved all his guns to Webber's SUV, and took gas cans out of his mock cruiser before setting it on fire.
"He got in, he looked over at us and drove off like nothing happened," Small said in a police interview.
While the gunman was still at the interchange, multiple people continued up the ramp past the cruisers — but no one followed Webber's lead and actually stopped. At 10:55 a.m. the gunman left the area in the silver SUV and headed south on the western prong of Highway 224.
Around 11 a.m. MacLeod was scrolling through social media when she saw that the gunman had been seen in Shubenacadie and killed two people.
"It was like something punched me in the gut," MacLeod said. She tried calling Webber but it went right to voicemail.
Around noon, MacLeod called Webber's sister Laura Webber and told her Joey Webber hadn't come home yet from his errand, which was unusual because he never made stops without letting MacLeod know first.
Webber's sister, father look for him
Laura Webber told her it was likely he had just gotten caught in traffic and his phone died, since by then police had blocked off the area around the Shubenacadie intersection.
But soon after, the sister began looking for him. She retraced his path from the Milford gas station up through Highway 224, and came by an RCMP officer who had blocked off the bridge into Shubenacadie.
She told the officer her brother was missing, and the make and model of his vehicle. The Mountie checked on his radio, and told her there was a silver SUV involved in the shooting but he wasn't sure about the specific model.
Laura Webber left her name and number with the Bible Hill RCMP detachment and called her father, Tom Webber. He drove to Shubenacadie and stopped at a pizza place near the collision scene to try and find out information, but didn't learn much .
As family members were driving around looking for Webber, MacLeod said she waited at home with their kids and "must have called his phone a hundred times."
Webber's partner questions lack of alert
MacLeod echoed the concerns of many of the victims' families who have wondered why RCMP never sent out an emergency alert that would have warned the public about the gunman.
"It bothers me that there wasn't an alert sent out because, so many lives could have been saved," MacLeod said. "It is just one of those things, what if, what if."
Sgt. Bill Raaymakers eventually called Tom Webber to tell him he was "pretty sure that it was Joey" who had been killed by the gunman, Laura Webber said in an interview with police.
Documents from the inquiry show Raaymakers and another officer met with both the sister and MacLeod at 7:55 p.m. that Sunday night, and told them it was "believed but not yet confirmed" that Webber was dead.
The inquiry will return on Wednesday when documents about the death of the final victim, Gina Goulet, and the events at the Enfield gas station where the gunman was killed by police, will be presented.