At least sixteen people have been murdered in a systematic, premeditated series of attacks in the small town of Portapique, Canada. The attacker went from house to house, identifying himself as a police officer in his efforts to take lives. When allowed inside, he shot the home’s inhabitants and set the building on fire before progressing to the next location.
The perpetrator has been tentatively identified as denturist Gabriel Wortman, 51. He had painstakingly disguised a white car to resemble an official Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle, with multicolor trim, false identification symbols, and top-mounted lights.
In an unpleasant sign of the times, the twitter feed was quickly split into three groups: those who were eager to point out that the shooter was white and male (often implying that white males were inherently violent or untrustworthy); those issuing vaguely threatening warnings that the longer the lockdowns continue, the more of these shootings will happen; and those expressing sorrow at the irrational and unnecessary loss of life.
The initial death toll was placed at ten, but as emergency responders have investigated the location more victims have been identified. The final count of the murdered is still uncertain, because Wortman was targeting rural homes; while the police have been checking those houses which were found to have been on fire, the possibility remains that more people were killed but their murders have simply not yet been uncovered because the attempted arson failed. Police are now performing welfare checks on rural homes in the area.
Due to evidence already collected by the police, terrorism is being discounted as a motivating factor, but they are acknowledging that the closure of non-essential businesses may have played a part in Wortman’s attacks.
Along with the known civilian deaths, a member of the RCMP was killed, Cst. Heidi Stevenson. She left behind a husband and two children. Details of her death have not been forthcoming, but it is known that the suspect was confronted while at a gas station and that shots were exchanged. Another member of the RCMP was injured, and the suspect was subsequently reported dead.
The incident was the worst mass shooting in Canada for decades.