aA fire-destroyed property registered to Gabriel Wortman at 200 Portapique Beach Road is seen in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, May 8, 2020. A former neighbour of the gunman behind last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia says she reported his domestic violence and cache of firearms to the RCMP years ago and ended up leaving the community herself due to fears of his violence.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

aA fire-destroyed property registered to Gabriel Wortman at 200 Portapique Beach Road is seen in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, May 8, 2020. A former neighbour of the gunman behind last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia says she reported his domestic violence and cache of firearms to the RCMP years ago and ended up leaving the community herself due to fears of his violence.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia RCMP use warrants to find killer’s cellphone, computer and other devices

Gunman killed 22 people in an April shooting rampage

As police continue their investigation into a mass killing that claimed 22 lives last month in rural Nova Scotia, newly released documents reveal the RCMP recently seized and searched the killer’s computer, cellphone, tablet and navigation devices.

The search warrants, unsealed by a judge on Monday, do not provide details about what police found because their investigation has yet to be completed. As a result, the documents are heavily redacted.

The warrants say police were looking for firearms, ammunition, explosives, chemicals, surveillance systems, computers, electronic devices, police-related clothing, human remains and “documents related to planning mass murder events” and the acquisition of weapons.

Each of the warrants is accompanied by a grim recounting of the events that started on the night of April 18, when 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse at one of his seasonal homes in the village of Portapique, N.S.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia mass killer’s semi-automatic guns believed to have come from U.S.

Armed with several semi-automatic weapons, he set fire to properties and killed 13 people in Portapiqe before he left the area, disguised as a Mountie and driving a vehicle that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

He killed another nine people the following day in several other communities in northern and central Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer fatally shot him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique.

The suspect remained at large for 13 hours.

“Gabriel Wortman showed a complete disregard for human life as he shot at people sitting in their cars, people walking along the side of the road, and at people in their private homes,” says a document prepared by RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk.

Investigators have said little when asked what may have motivated the killer.

The RCMP documents say police seized a Samsung cellphone, Toshiba laptop, Acer tablet, a data-storage card and a Garmin global positioning device from the gunman’s denture clinic in Dartmouth, N.S., on April 20, the day after he was killed by police.

As well, the warrants and other documents say police have obtained data from the infotainment systems inside two vehicles seized from the same property: a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor and a 2015 C-300 Mercedes-Benz.

Police say these systems can store synchronized cellphone data regarding navigation, texting, phone calls and internet-enabled content including traffic conditions and weather.

Meanwhile, the RCMP have filed a so-called production order with telecommunications provider Telus Communications Inc., based in Scarborough, Ont. The order says the Mounties are seeking documents and data from Telus Mobility, but the specific requests have been redacted.

READ MORE: How Nova Scotia mass shooting could bring law that makes abusers’ tactics a crime

Investigators obtained warrants to search at least four other properties owned by the killer, two of them in Portapique.

Police confirmed that nothing was seized from 287 Portapique Beach Road, which was destroyed by fire.

At another burned property, 136 Orchard Beach Drive, police found something they described as “rounds,” but the description on either side of that word has been blacked out.

At 200 Portapique Beach Road, Wortman’s main seasonal residence, police found an ammunition box with a burnt $100 bill, a black plastic bag, a burnt receipt box and burnt pieces of a rifle.

Police were also granted permission to search a second denture clinic at 3542 Novalea Drive in Halifax, where they hoped to find another computer. But the search turned up nothing.

The documents released Monday were unsealed after a media consortium, including The Canadian Press, went to court.

Last week, the court released other documents that revealed statements from witnesses who described Wortman as an abusive “sociopath” who had suffered a mental breakdown and was stockpiling guns while displaying paranoid behaviour because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One witness said Wortman “had been disturbed and that he was severely abused as a young boy,” adding he was “very smart, cheated and was a psychopath.” Another witness said Wortman had described ways to get rid of bodies using chemicals.

The document confirmed Wortman had purchased used police cars at auctions and had obtained decals to make one vehicle, another Ford Taurus, look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

In the reasons given for seeking search warrants, Hawryluk describes how the first two officers to arrive in Portapique on the night of April 18 encountered a wounded witness who told them he’d been fired upon by a man in uniform driving what they thought was an RCMP vehicle.

The witness told police his “first suspicion was that (the gunman) was … Gabe (Wortman) because his barn was on fire and he had a look-a-like Taurus that he was calling a police car.”

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Mass shootingsNova ScotiaRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The notice at Port Hardy Secondary School’s athletic track. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
SD85 school tracks closed to the public during school hours

To keep P.E. classes safe, the restriction went into effect Nov. 30

Shoebox Project logo
Donate now to the Campbell River/North Island Shoebox Project

There is just over a week to go in The Campbell River/North Island Shoebox Project campaign

The entrance to the Port Hardy aquatic centre. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Port Hardy council will decide fate of pool revitalization project at next meeting

The pool revitalization project will be on the agenda at the Dec. 8 meeting for council to vote on.

The Port Alice Community Centre opened its doors to the public Wednesday through Friday morning, offering coffee, tea, hot soup, meals and warmth. Cots were available for overnight stays. The centre had a generator, so people were able to charge their devices. Approximately 75 residents passed through during the three-day outage. (Debra Lynn photo)
Port Alice residents talk three-day power outage

The Port Alice Community Centre opened its doors to the public Wednesday through Friday morning.

Emma Garriott is releasing her second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst.’ (Emma Garriott / Facebook photo)
North Island musician releases second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst’

“When you hear it, I want you to feel like your best friend in the whole world is sitting beside you’

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read