Nova Scotia

'I would not have let my wife leave': Widower blasts lack of emergency alert during N.S. shootings

The husband of a health-care worker killed in Sunday's attacks in Nova Scotia is criticizing the fact that an emergency alert was not sent out and people were instead updated about the situation through the RCMP's Twitter account.

Alert could have saved lives, says husband of slain health-care worker

Kristen Beaton was a health-care worker, wife and mother. She was among those killed in Nova Scotia's mass shooting over the weekend. (Facebook)

The husband of a health-care worker killed in Sunday's attacks in Nova Scotia is criticizing the fact that an emergency alert was not sent out and people were instead updated about the situation through the RCMP's Twitter account.

"I would not have let my wife leave ... if I had that broadcast come across, that he was on the loose and he was driving an RCMP vehicle," Nick Beaton told CBC's As It Happens, referring to the suspected gunman.

Beaton didn't know the man was in a police uniform and driving what appeared to be a police cruiser "until it was too late."

Kristen Beaton — a continuing care assistant who had worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses for nearly six years — was one of at least 22 people killed in Sunday's rampage.

Beaton says an alert — such as the one Nova Scotians received over the Easter weekend, warning them to practise physical distancing — could have saved lives.

Premier Stephen McNeil has said it was up to the RCMP to request an alert.

RCMP officials said on Monday that Twitter was used because it was an unfolding situation and it was updated many times, although they were in contact with the province the whole time.

'Spoiled in so many ways'

Beaton said his wife was amazing and "had me spoiled in so many ways that I didn't even know." 

Their young son, Daxton, was "Kristen's world," he said, and she was passionate about her job.

Kristen was killed while on her way to see a client.

Beaton learned what was unfolding on Sunday through social media. Shortly before his wife died, he sent her a picture of the suspected killer and warned her not to stop for anyone.

Kristen Beaton never would have gone to work on Sunday if she'd known a killer was on the loose, Nick Beaton says. The Debert, N.S., nurse was one of at least 22 people killed by a lone gunman on Sunday. 7:58

"The next text was telling her he was in Glenholme. She never got to read it," he said.

Compounding the loss is that Kristen was pregnant.

"We didn't even get to share it with the family yet," he said.

Beaton was stressed about potentially exposing her family to COVID-19, and got only two surgical masks a day, according to her husband. (Facebook)

Beaton said his wife loved her job, but was constantly stressed about potentially exposing her family to COVID-19. He said she only had access to two surgical masks a day, and no N95 masks.

"Every morning and every night, she cried, scared to death to bring COVID home to our son," he said. 

Beaton said he wants to see better access to personal protective equipment for workers, and plans to continue spreading that message in her honour.

"Her legacy will carry on," he said.

Officials said Tuesday a large shipment of protective equipment, including 1.7 million surgical masks, had arrived in Nova Scotia.

'The crafty girl in the family'

In her obituary, 33-year-old Kristen Beaton is described as a mom who would do anything to put a smile on her young son's face.

"Kris's greatest accomplishment in her short life was her son Daxton. Kris loved that boy more than life itself," it reads.

Her obituary also mentions the death of her unborn child.

Beaton is remembered as thoughtful, someone whose smile and laugh made even the darkest days bright and "the crafty girl in the family that made us all the most memorable gifts."

"Kris enjoyed her work with the VON but she loved her clients like they were family and always went the extra mile for them," her obituary says.

Her favourite place to go was at the camper, according to her obituary, and she often gathered the family together for barbecues. 

She was also her father's "rock and anchor in life" who encouraged everyone to show their true colours.

'You can't say a bad word about her'

Dylan Sutherland, who had known Kristen since childhood, said she was "like a big sister." 

"Nobody really can make any sense of it," Sutherland said. "It's just a struggle for everybody just to see the devastation that's happened for anybody, everywhere."

Co-worker Andrea McLellan, who was friends with Kristen outside of work, described her as compassionate, loving and caring with her clients.

"You can't say a bad word about her. She's made up of only good things. Everyone that knows her loves her," she said.

"I don't know how we'll get through, but we will as a community."

If you are seeking mental health support during this time, here are resources available to Nova Scotians.

A roadside memorial for Beaton stands outside Debert, N.S. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

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With files from As It Happens

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